West Nile Outbreak: How to Stay Healthy

This is the worst year on record for West Nile Virus. But you can take steps to protect yourself.

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• Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Eliminate it. Be alert for: old tires lying around; flower pots; buckets; watering cans; ornamental ponds; kiddie pools; and roof gutters and downspout drainage systems. Likewise, turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when you're not using them. And change the water in bird baths every week.

• Mosquito-proof your home: Install or repair door and window screens to keep them from coming inside. "I just found a couple in my house today, looking for someone to bite," Biedrzycki says.

• Dead birds often signal that the virus is present. If you spot one near your home, report it to the local health department so that officials can monitor the situation. Call the dead bird hotline at (800) 433-1610.

[See A New Weapon Against West Nile Virus]