Mosquitoes are having the time of their lives this summer. And, in 22 states thus far, they are spreading West Nile Virus (WNV). With over 240 cases and a few deaths, this year may be the worst epidemic of WNV we have ever seen.

This is pretty scary. But, the reality is that very few mosquitoes actually carry WNV and less than 1% of people who are bitten by a WNV-carrying mosquito will get seriously ill.

So, what can you do to protect you and your family? Just remember the 3 D’s:

  1. Drain: Mosquitoes like stagnant water. Get rid of the water in the bird feeder or your baby pool when it isn’t in use.
  2. Dawn/Dusk: Mosquitoes like hanging out at these hours (although this year they seem to like all hours). So, limit the time you are outdoors during this time of day.
  3. Defend/DEET: Wear long sleeves and pants when you are outside. Place insect netting over your infants if they are out and about in a stroller or carseat. And don’t be afraid to use DEET. DEET-based insect repellents are very effective in preventing mosquito bites and are safe if they are used properly. DEET can be used for kids over 2 months of age. Picaridin-based insect repellents are also effective and are approved for use for all ages. It’s probably wise to wear insect repellent ANY time of day–not just at dawn or dusk–given how bad the mosquitoes are this year.

For more info, check out the CDC’s website.