5 Tips for Avoiding Mosquito Bites—and West Nile Virus

The CDC offers advice for how to avoid getting bitten by the insects.

An aedes aegypti mosquito is shown on human skin.

It's the beginning of prime season for mosquitoes—and the transmission of West Nile virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice for how to avoid getting bitten by the insects.

• The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to put insect repellents on exposed skin. The CDC recommends four ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD), and IR3535 (its latest addition to the list, sold by Avon). In addition, permethrin—which can be used on clothing, shoes, camping gear, and bed nets, but not skin—is an option. Directions on insect repellants should indicate how often they should be reapplied and for which age groups they're appropriate.

• Consider wearing long pants and long sleeves when weather allows it, or simply stay indoors at or near dawn and dusk, when West Nile infections tend to occur. "Try and avoid mosquito bites at these times," says Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC's Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

• Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home. These include small pools of water such as a birdbath that's not cleaned out, water at the bottom of a flowerpot, and old buckets or tires with standing water. "Any kind of container can breed mosquitoes," Petersen says. Emptying such containers once or twice a week should do the trick.

• Put screens on your windows and doors—and repair the screens if they have holes in them. Also, use air conditioning so you can keep the windows closed.

• Use mosquito netting on infant carriers when taking your baby outdoors.