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Travel Tip: Avoiding West Nile Virus

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You may have heard that cases of West Nile virus are on the rise in the U.S. So here’s what you need to know to protect yourself.

To date, there have been at least 1,600 cases of West Nile virus in the U.S., with more than 60 deaths. The hardest-hit areas are in Texas and California.

What’s scary is that it’s a mosquito-borne disease, and the virus moves faster in hotter weather. But the reality is, this isn’t a pandemic or a reason to panic. Most people who get the virus don’t even know they have it.

There are common-sense techniques you can follow. Insect repellent is one of those no-brainers. Spray your clothing as well as your skin, since mosquitoes can bite through thin cloth.

If you’re not comfortable dousing yourself in DEET, there are some natural repellents that have been shown to work, like oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Avoid being outside at dawn or dusk, which are peak biting times. And keep in mind that stagnant water is the worst kind of breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you spot standing water, report it to a park ranger or local health department. The same goes if you see a dead bird which can be a sign of the lurking virus.

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