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Local Mom Takes Standard West Nile Precaution

ARMONK, N.Y. - Mosquito bites are always a nuisance but this time of year is when they could cause the most harm.

Laura Lichtenstein of Bedford and her daughter met with friends in Armonk Monday evening for some ice cream on Main Street. She said she takes safety measures to prevent West Nile virus from affecting her family.

“Whenever water gathers anywhere around the house like the pots outside or the kid’s toys I dump it out because that’s the nesting ground,” Lichtenstein said. “I think enough to do that because I feel like it’s pretty buggy where we live and it’s just something in my control that I can do.”

Bug repellent is a quick way to keep mosquitoes from leaving their itchy puffy mark but unless Lichtenstein plans to be outside she said she’d rather stay indoors during this time of year.

“There are times at night that if I were home it would be totally unpleasant to be outside,” Lichtenstein said. “If we’re going hiking or something we’ll put on bug spray but I don’t get nuts about it.”

West Nile, a type of virus known as flavivirus, was identified in 1937 in Uganda. It was discovered in New York in the summer of 1999 and since then has spread throughout the United States.

West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes have been confirmed in cities and towns in Connecticut and Westchester. The disease is most common during August and early September, which is when mosquitoes carrying the highest amounts of the virus are abundant. As the weather cools, mosquitoes die off and the risk of infection decreases.

To avoid mosquitoes, stay inside when they feed, which is typically between dusk and dawn. If you are outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as socks and shoes. The Centers for Disease Control also gives these tips for avoiding West Nile virus:

• Use mosquito repellant only on exposed skin and/or clothing;

• Use repellants that contain10 percent or less DEET for children and no more than 30 percent DEET for adults. Don't use repellents with DEET on infants and small children. When using repellant, do not spray toward face or under clothes. Apply with hands away from cuts, eyes and mouth.

• Reducing the number of mosquitoes in your backyard can help decrease the spread of West Nile virus. Cleaning roof gutters or any areas where water collects will help to eliminate breeding grounds.

If you do become infected with West Nile virus, you could experience minor symptoms, such as low-grade fever and mild headache. Or, you might not experience any symptoms at all. Fewer than 1 percent of people sickened develop life-threatening illnesses, such as West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis that include inflammation of the brain, the CDC says.

The mild signs and symptoms of West Nile virus infection, which include fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, generally go away on their own. However, severe signs and symptoms — severe headache, disorientation, lack of coordination, convulsions, tremors or sudden weakness -- require immediate attention.

The CDC said relatively few reports of infection in dogs and cats. Check with your veterinarian about how to protect them from mosquitoes.

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