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West Nile Virus found in Midwest

mosquito.gif - 6787 Bytes Mosquitoes are not just a nuisance, they can transmit serious infectious diseases, such as encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever and the most recent - West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes carry diseases that also threaten our dogs, cats and horses.

While adult mosquitoes often rest in tall grass and shrubbery, they need water to complete their life cycle. They lay their eggs in standing water where they will hatch in a matter of days. The eggs can also remain unhatched for weeks or even months until they are covered with water - so it is essential to remove any standing water from your property.

West Nile Virus has been discovered in northern Illinois, not just in infected dead crows, but in infected mosquitoes. Officials expect the worst to be early in September. However, if warm temperatures continue so will the threat of West Nile.

Some people will contract the virus and not even be aware of it, since a mild case of West Nile causes only headaches and flu-like symptoms within 3 to 14 days. However, a more severe case of West Nile can develop into encephalitis, which is swelling of the tissue surrounding the brain. Encephalitis is a serious and potentially deadly disease, usually affecting those over 50 with current health problems.

While the CDC - Center for Disease Control assures us that contracting West Nile Virus is rare; they also want us to be aware of its causes and symptoms so we can take the necessary precautions.

Enlisting the help of your tenants - if you are a landlord
Check your properties let your tenants know how they can protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes. Requesting that your tenants do their part in eradicating mosquito breeding grounds will also reap the bonus of cleaner, safer rental properties.

Home & Yard Checklist

  • Get rid of old tires, tin cans, buckets, or any water-holding containers
  • Fill in or drain any low places in the yard that create puddles and ruts
  • Keep drains, ditches and culverts clean of weeds and trash
  • Cover trash containers to keep out the water
  • Repair leaky pipes and outside faucets
  • Empty plastic wading pools weekly and store indoors when not in use
  • Maintain your pool properly when you go on vacation
  • Fill in any holes and hollow stumps that may hold standing water
  • Change the water in bird baths and fountains at least once a week
  • Keep the grass cut short and trim the shrubbery around the house.
  • Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into heavy mosquito areas
  • Make sure your window and door screens are "bug tight"
  • Replace your outdoor lights with yellow "bug lights"
  • Use mosquito repellent when necessary. Follow directions.
  • Keep rain gutters unclogged
  • Avoid early morning or dusk in mosquito-infested areas.

Connie Eccles is researcher, writer, & CEO of ComPortOne.

Sources: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. www.epa.gov/pesticides/citizens/mosquito.htm

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