Protect Yourself from the Serious Illness
West Nile Virus is officially back in Massachusetts this year. The virus, which is typically spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, can cause serious fever and flu-like illness. Several Western Massachusetts communities, including Springfield, East Longmeadow, Palmer, and Ludlow have elevated their West Nile risk level from ‘low’ to ‘moderate.’ Public health officials are advising everyone to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites this summer.
Here are five ways to protect yourself from West Nile Virus in Western Massachusetts:
1. Get Rid of Standing Water
Mosquitoes only need a half-inch of stagnant water to lay their eggs, so prevention begins with removing any sources of standing water from your property. Be sure to empty anything that can catch water during a rainfall, such as a wheelbarrow or kiddie pool. Change birdbath water every few days, and make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris.
2. Make the Most of Screens
Putting a barrier between yourself and the mosquitoes is another great way to prevent bites. Use fine mesh screens on all windows and doors, and consider screening in your porch. Repair or replace any torn screens, and make sure the edges are tightly sealed.
3. Control Your Yard
Mosquitoes favor cool, shady spots, so try minimizing these locations around your property. Keep grass neat and cut back any overgrown shrubs or tree limbs. Smooth out any divots or holes in your lawn so they don’t pool with water during a rainfall.
4. Try Using a Standing Fan (Even Outdoors!)
There’s a reason people in muggy or tropical climates have porch fans, and it’s not just to keep cool. Fans make it harder for mosquitoes to fly against the air current, thus reducing mosquito landings. They also help disperse the carbon dioxide emitted by our bodies, which is what attracts mosquitoes to us in the first place. If you’ll be out on your deck or patio, consider using an oscillating fan.
5. Keep Yourself Covered
Even the best prevention methods probably won’t keep all the mosquitoes off your property, so it’s important to protect yourself. Long sleeves and pants can guard against bites, and insect repellents that contains at least 20% DEET can minimize your exposure.
Summer is supposed to be stress-free, so don’t let West Nile Virus in Western Massachusetts ruin your relaxation. Take steps to ensure you and your family are protected, and feel free to give Graduate a call if you run into any pest problems.