SPECIAL REPORT : Coping with the West Nile Virus

Humans are infected by mosquitos carrying the West Nile virus. Effects vary from mild flu-like symptoms to encephalitis and/or meningitis: those most seriously affected may die, or may suffer from short- or long-term disabilities. There is evidence that children tend to be less seriously affected.

You can help reduce the risk by eliminating mosquito breeding areas: see the sidebar at the right.

Mosquito

You can do two things to avoid infection during baseball activities: wear protective clothing, and use mosquito repellent. Wear light-coloured clothing that covers as much of your body as possible, tucking pants into socks, and avoiding thin clothing. And use insect repellents with DEET on exposed skin and thin clothing, but not under clothing. Health authorities advise that:

  • The repellent should have no more than 30% DEET for adults and 10% for children, with the optimum strength depending on the individual’s body size and on the duration and intensity of their physical activities. It may be necessary to re-apply the repellent after a period of time. Check with a pharmacist to determine what is best for each member of your family.
  • 24 hours before first use, apply the repellent to a small patch on the arm to check for special sensitivities.
  • Don’t get the repellent on open wounds, on irritated or sunburnt skin, or in the eyes. If you get it in the eyes, rinse immediately. For spray repellents, use in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing the mist.
  • After use, wash your skin with soap and water.

You should also note that mosquitos are most active in summer and fall, from dusk to dawn.

For more information, visit websites maintained by the City of Mississauga, the Government of Ontario, and the U.S. Center for Disease Control, or refer to your doctor or pharmacist.