Summer and warm weather presents opportunities for us to stay out longer. However, warm weather also presents health concerns such as West Nile virus, which is spread by mosquitos. Birds are carriers of West Nile virus; a mosquito becomes infected by biting an infected bird.
West Nile virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). The good news is that West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact such as touching, kissing, or caring for someone who is infected.
How can I protect myself and family?
1. Reduce the presence of mosquitoes in their surroundings.
- Mosquito-proof your home to reduce your risk for becoming sick. Eliminate standing water in and around your home and business where mosquitoes can breed.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
- Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
- Remove discarded tires and other items that could collect water.
- Look for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
2. Take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the more active ingredients a repellent contains the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites.
- Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
- Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the products.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What you need to know about mosquito repellents (pdf)
- Tips for proper protection when using DEET insect repellent
- When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
- Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
- Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
- Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
Reporting sick or dead birds
Wild birds are a natural host for West Nile virus, particularly crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and sage grouse. A large or continuous die-off of birds may be a local indicator of WNV activity. Contact one of the following Oregon agencies for collection and testing for West Nile virus surveillance:
For more information, see Reporting Sick or Dead Wild Birds (pdf) and WNV specimen and submission form (pdf).
Brochures and posters
For more information on West Nile virus
For more information on mosquito control in Oregon