West Nile Virus: Frequently Asked Questions


1. Can I get West Nile Virus from a dead crow?

No, People become infected by the bite of a mosquito infected with West Nile virus. There is no evidence that a person can get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds. However, you should avoid using your bare hands when handling any dead animals.

2. How do I dispose of a dead bird?

You should avoid using your bare hands when handling any dead animals. Use gloves to place the carcass of the bird into double plastic bags and place the wrapped carcass of the bird in a garbage can.

3. What is the best way to protect myself from being bitten by a mosquito?

  • Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
  • Use insect repellent products with no more than 30 percent DEET ( Adobe Large PDF file 140K)for adults and children that are two months of age or older.
  • Follow instructions when using insect repellents.
  • Check window and door screens to ensure that mosquitoes don't enter the home.
  • Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites around your home

4. What is the best way to prevent mosquito breeding?

  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where rainwater collects, such as potted plant trays, buckets, or toys.
  • Remove old tires from your yard.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspout screens.
  • Eliminate standing water on flat roofs, boats, and tarps
  • Empty birdbaths once a week.

5. How are ponds and other large bodies of water treated?

In locations where it is not possible to drain standing water, such as stormwater retention ponds, unused swimming pools, water reservoirs, and gutters, the public can use an environmentally safe larvicide. This product kills mosquitoes at the larval stage, which is before they become flying insects. It targets mainly mosquitoes, so it will not harm people, pets, fish, or plants. To learn more information about larvicides, click here.

6. Is there a mosquito danger from wetlands?

In naturally occurring ponds where there are frogs, minnows, and dragonflies there is no need to put a larvicide in the water since these animals are natural predators of mosquitoes and keep the mosquito population low.

7. What is a Mosquito Magnet ® and does it actually work?

  1. A Mosquito Magnet ® is a commercial biting insect abatement system. The device uses a standard 20-pound tank of propane to emit a warm, moist stream of carbon dioxide, heat, octenol attractant (registered EPA pesticide) and moisture that pests mistake for the exhaled breath of their warm-blooded prey. As the insects approach the source, they are vacuumed into the net where they dehydrate and die. In 4-6 weeks, the breeding cycle is interrupted as egg-laying females are destroyed. Because it only attracts bloodseeking insects such as mosquitoes and noseeums, beneficial insects such as butterflies, bees, and moths are not affected.

    Octenol (1-octen-3-ol) may also be used to increase the attraction of the mosquitoes and other biting insects to the trap. Octenol is a naturally occurring by-product that comes from plants and some animals, such as oxen and cows, which ingest large amounts of vegetable matter. The octenol is in the form of a packet with a peel-off top that is inserted into the Mosquito Magnet ®. The octenol needs to be replaced every 21 days.

    Whether or not using a Mosquito Magnet ® in your yard will actually reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home is a matter of controversy. There are those who have used this device with great success and others who have not. The County does not endorse this product or advocate its use or disuse.


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