Nature provides the perfect setting for enjoying Missouri state parks and historic sites. The natural world also includes mosquitoes and other insects. The recent concern about mosquito-borne diseases has some people staying indoors but there is no reason to reduce your experience in state parks. Less than 1 percent of mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus and if the mosquito is infected, only 1 percent of the people bitten will become ill.
Although the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease is low, there are things you can do to help minimize being bitten by a mosquito.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET directly to the skin and clothing.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
- Avoid going outdoors around dusk and dawn.
- Do not wear perfume or cologne outdoors.
Most people bitten by a mosquito with the West Nile virus experience no symptoms, but some become ill three to 15 days after being bitten. Symptoms range from fever, headache and body aches to confusion, convulsions and in rare cases encephalitis or swelling of the brain. Check with your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
What You Can Do at Home
- Don't let mosquitoes breed around your home.
- Eliminate standing water from flower pots, barrels, used tires, clogged roof gutters or water-holding containers.
- Install or repair window and door screens to keep out mosquitoes.
- Keep grass cut short so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.