Health and Family Services Cabinet
Ditch the Itch: Prevent West Nile Virus by Avoiding Mosquito Bites
Note to editors/producers: This is one of a series of news releases being issued as part of a joint Fourth of July and summer safety campaign by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Kentucky State Police and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The campaign addresses fireworks safety, drowning prevention, boating safety, food safety, sunburn/skin cancer prevention and West Nile Virus information. Please visit our Summer Safety Web site at http://chfs.ky.gov/summerSafety08.htm for all campaign releases and to download audio/video PSAs and other resources.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 27, 2008) - West Nile Virus (WNV) remains a serious public health concern this summer, but Kentuckians can prevent or dramatically lower their risk of contracting the illness by taking steps to avoid mosquito bites.
Historically, this is the time of year when Kentucky sees increasing reports of West Nile Virus activity. With that in mind, along with recent West Nile cases in other states, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services urges residents to maintain prevention efforts until a hard freeze occurs.
“We tend to think of mosquitoes as a nuisance in the summer, but we need to remember there is more at stake,” said Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) Commissioner William Hacker, M.D. “Some mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus, which can be extremely debilitating and even deadly in some cases. Young children and the elderly are at higher risk for serious illness.”
West Nile is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and can result in a deadly virus or West Nile fever, a less dangerous illness that typically produces flu-like symptoms. Birds and horses also can be affected.
DPH continues to work with local health departments and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) to control and aid in WNV surveillance and mosquito control in the state, but residents can take proactive measures on their own to help avoid WNV exposure. DPH recommends that Kentuckians:
— Eliminate mosquito breeding areas by removing standing rainwater as it accumulates.
— Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
— Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors.
— Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin, DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. (For more information on insect repellants visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm).
— Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use, printed on the product.
— Report swimming pools that are neglected and in a state of disrepair.
Dogs and cats also are susceptible to WNV illness, so pet owners should use a veterinarian-recommended mosquito and tick repellent. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use.
The KDA sprays for mosquitoes at the request of local governments and health departments. A KDA county spraying schedule and more information about the program are available on the Web at http://www.kyagr.com/consumer/envsvs/PestWeed/MosquitoControl.htm.
For more information about West Nile Virus activity and statewide updates, visit the DPH Web site at http://chfs.gov/dph/epi/westnile.htm.