The discovery at two different locations in Cape Girardeau of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus is cause for concern but not alarm.
Eighty percent of people infected with the virus never develop any symptoms. Twenty in 100 people infected experience fever, headache, nausea, vomiting or a skin rash. One in 150 infected develops a severe illness, and the neurological effects may be permanent.
People over age 50 are at greater risk of developing a severe illness. Symptoms take 3 to 14 days to develop,
The Centers for Disease Control offers these suggestions for protecting yourself and your family:
* Eliminate containers that could hold water.
* Install or repair window screens.
* Place mosquito netting over infant carriers.
* Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Repellent should contain the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
* Wear long sleeves and pants or stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
* Drain livestock water tanks weekly.
* Clean debris from gutters.
With a few prudent precautions, the risks of serious problems with West Nile can be minimized.