Warning: West Nile Risk Higher for Seniors

Published Online: Monday, September 1, 2003

    Although the chances are slim of individuals becoming seriously ill if infected with the West Nile virus, the older population remains at higher risk for serious illness. The virus is generally spread between birds and mosquitoes. People over age 50, if infected, may develop a severe infection involving the central nervous system?either meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain or spinal cord). Here are tips for preventing the West Nile virus:

? Eliminate standing water because mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water

? Keep overgrown weeds at bay because they are a breeding ground for mosquitoes

? Avoid outdoor activities at dawn, dusk, or early evening, when mosquitoes are most active

? Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as covered shoes with socks in mosquito-infected areas

? Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET when outdoors

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