Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

What Can I Do About West Nile Virus?

The two most important things you can do to reduce the spread of West Nile Virus are to:

  • Eliminate mosquito breeding sites on your property
  • Reduce exposure to adult mosquitoes, not only for yourself and your family, but also for your animals

Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, reducing or eliminating standing water sources will help to keep mosquitoes on your property to a minimum. Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.

Here are some steps you can take to minimize standing water:

  • Dispose of old tires - they are an excellent mosquito breeding location
  • Keep rain gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris
  • Repair leaky outdoor faucets, pumps, drains, livestock waterers, and similar devices
  • Fill or drain any areas on your property that typically collect water
  • Discard any unneeded objects that could hold water, such as cans, bottles, or flower pots
  • Change water in birdbaths, pet dishes, drip trays, and similar items at least once a week
  • Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools and other water-collecting equipment when not in use
  • Keep trash containers covered
  • Drill holes in the bottom of containers that cannot be discarded and must be left outdoors
  • Keep swimming pools properly maintained, and cover when not in use. Be sure pool covers cannot hold pockets of water
  • Remove tree stumps that can hold water
  • Consider aerating ornamental ponds or stocking them with fish (fish will eat mosquito larvae)
  • Remind or help neighbors to eliminate breeding sites on their properties
  • Ask for help from your local mosquito control authority - they can assess the exposure risks for your property and offer suggestions for mosquito control

Protect yourself and your family from exposure to mosquitoes by doing the following:

  • Make sure that the windows and doors of your home have screens, and that they are in good repair
  • Take normal steps to prevent insect bites
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are most active (between dusk and dawn)
  • Consider the use of mosquito repellent, according to directions, when it is necessary to be outdoors. Wash all treated skin and clothing when returning indoors

Minimize the Exposure

  • Avoid turning on lights inside the stable during the evening and overnight hours. Mosquitoes are attracted to yellow incandescent bulbs.
  • If light is needed near the stable, place incandescent bulbs outside the stable to attract mosquitoes away from the horses. Black lights (bug zappers) don't attract mosquitoes well.
  • Reduce the number of birds in and around the stable area. Eliminate roosting areas in the rafters of the stable. Certain species of wild birds (crows, jays, magpies, and ravens) are thought to be the main reservoir for the virus. Although pigeons have been shown to become infected with West Nile Virus, they do not appear to act as reservoirs and therefore don’t transmit the virus to mosquitoes.
  • Periodically look around the property for dead birds, such as crows. Any suspicious birds should be reported to the Utah Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology at 1-801-538-6191. Use gloves to handle dead birds and place the birds in plastic bags, as directed by the Department of Health.
  • Topical preparations containing mosquito repellents are available for horses. Read the product label before using.
  • Fogging of stable premises can be done in the evening to reduce mosquitoes; read directions carefully before using.
  • Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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