There is presently no vaccine available to protect against West Nile virus. Severe cases of West Nile virus are treated with supportive care in a hospital. This involves helping the body fight illness on its own, rather than treating the cause of illness directly. People infected with West Nile virus may receive intravenous (into a vein) fluids and breathing support (by ventilator). Scientists are working on developing a vaccine for West Nile virus.
In the absence of an available vaccine, experts are advising people to protect themselves against the virus by avoiding bites from mosquitoes. The risk of becoming infected with West Nile is greatest during mosquito season. In Canada, the higher-risk season is from mid-April to late September or October.
The following suggestions can help you avoid mosquitoes:
Use insect repellent
- Adults: Apply a bug repellent that contains no more than 30% DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) to clothes and exposed skin. In general, the duration of protection for different strengths
- 6 hours for 30%
- 3 hours for 10%
- Children 2 to 12 years of age: Use DEET in concentrations of 10% or less and do not apply more than 3 times daily. Do not apply repellent to the face and hands. Avoid prolonged use.
- Children aged 6 months to 2 years: Apply DEET repellent once daily in situations where there is a high risk of complications due to insect bites. In these situations, sparingly use concentrations of less than 10% DEET and do not apply to the face and hands. Avoid prolonged use.
- Children under 6 months of age: Do not apply DEET to clothes or skin.
- Pregnant women: There are no data to suggest that DEET is harmful for pregnant or breast-feeding women. However, these women may want to use non-chemical methods (such as protective clothing and avoiding times and places where mosquitoes are likely to be present).
- Minimize time outdoors, or remain indoors from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Eliminate stagnant water (including bird baths) or standing water on your lawn. Regularly (twice a week) drain rain barrels and/or cover with screens, drain swimming-pool covers, clean eavestroughs regularly, and drain flowerpots and planters. Keep wheelbarrows and wading pools overturned when not in use.
- Around your yard and lawn, immediately throw away lawn cuttings, raked leaves, and fruit or berries that fall from trees. Place them in sealed garbage bags. Turn over compost piles regularly, and remove dense shrubbery, where mosquitoes are liable to breed and rest.
- Ensure that door and window screens are secure and free of holes.
Wear protective clothing
- Wear light-coloured clothes, including long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use a mosquito net over a baby's crib, stroller or playpen when the child is outdoors if there is a risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Otherwise, dress the infant in long sleeve shirts and long pants when in an area where mosquitoes are present.
Other prevention strategies
Insecticides that destroy mosquitoes at various stages of their development can also be used to control the mosquito population. Provincial and local health authorities are the only people qualified and responsible for determining whether pesticides should be used to prevent the spread of West Nile virus in a particular area. When such a decision is made, the public is warned in advance so they can take precautions and minimize exposure. The workers who carry out mosquito control programs are licensed by provincial authorities.
Mosquito development consists of 4 stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. Adult females deposit eggs in or around standing water. The eggs hatch into larvae, which continue to develop in the area they were deposited and eventually develop into adult mosquitoes.
Insecticides can either destroy mosquito larvae (larvicides) or kill adult mosquitoes (adulticides).
Larvicides have greatest effect early in the mosquito season (from May to July in Canada) and less effect after mid-August. They are sprayed on areas where mosquitoes typically deposit their eggs. Adulticides are sprayed on plants where adult mosquitoes are commonly found. In general, larvicides are preferred to adulticides because they have less of an impact on human health, other animals, and the environment. They also disrupt the mosquito life cycle before they become adults and move to other areas. Adulticides are usually used as a last resort in situations where a high risk of human infection with West Nile virus exists. Because adult mosquitoes are mobile, adulticides may need to be sprayed repeatedly to control the mosquito population.
Provincial health authorities take West Nile seriously. They are monitoring the spread of the virus and are developing methods to manage outbreaks effectively.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/West-Nile-Virus