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West Nile Virus And Your Kids

With summer almost here, many parents are concerned about mosquito bites. While they've always been pests, mosquitoes have become dangerous in the past few years with the spread of the deadly West Nile Virus.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay offers new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics that will help keep your kids safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 49 cases of West Nile Virus last year in children aged 0 to 9 and 81 cases in children aged 10-19. But experts at the CDC in Atlanta believe we're better off this year. There is much more awareness of West Nile Virus and people are better at taking the right precautions.

Mosquitoes don't discriminate. They are as likely to bite a child as they would an adult, but the good news is that risk of a child getting sick from West Nile Virus seems to be lower than in adults.

That said, certain children are more at risk of getting sick. Children who are the most likely to get sick are those with suppressed immune systems.

The most common symptoms of the West Nile Virus are fever, headaches, and muscle aches, including back aches. Also look for skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

The best way to avoid West Nile virus in children is through prevention. Here are the new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Use 10% DEET Repellent
When buying a repellent for your child, look for one that contains DEET. The best concentration to use on children is 10 percent. There are higher concentrations, but you will want to stick with the 10 percent. The good thing about DEET is that it not only protects against mosquitoes but it also protects against other insects including ticks, which carry Lyme Disease. There is one major caveat when using a DEET product: Don't apply it to children under 2 months of age.

Avoid Spraying Repellent on Hands and Wounds
You don't want the DEET to get on children's hands because they may put their hands in their mouths. You want to avoid spraying it on open cuts or wounds because you don't want it to enter the blood stream.

Wear Long Sleeves and Pants
Your child may complain, but long sleeves and pants cover more skin, giving mosquitoes a smaller surface area to bite. But remember it is summer and the weather is warm; make sure the clothing is loose fitting.

Avoid Outdoors At Dawn and Dusk
Mosquitoes are most likely to come out in the early morning and early evening when the sun isn't strong. So if at all possible, keep your children indoors during these times. If they are allowed outside make sure you take all the precautions mentioned above.

What Can Be Done If You Think Yor Child Has West Nile Virus?
You can always get your child tested if he or she exhibits symptoms. There is a test available that takes only about a day to get the results. But remember - there is still no specific course of treatment for West Nile Virus.