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News Releases

For Immediate Release

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Doctors Caution Parents to Keep Kids Safe from West Nile Virus this Labor Day Weekend

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh experts suggest parents take precautions to safeguard their children against mosquito bites as Labor Day weekend approaches and families prepare for camping and other outdoor activities. Although chances of illness from West Nile Virus are extremely low, mosquitoes can transmit the virus to people.

In most cases, a person infected with West Nile Virus will not exhibit symptoms. This year’s West Nile outbreak has infected 425 people and killed 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The best way to protect children from West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites. The most effective repellents contain DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, said Edward Krenzelok, PhD, director of the Pittsburgh Poison Center at Children’s Hospital.

“Spraying the clothing and putting a little on the arms and around the neck can be very effective. You can do a lot without having to spray much on a child’s skin,” Dr. Krenzelok said. “Conservative use will still keep the mosquitoes away.”

However, parents should be careful when applying DEET-based products on children. Dr. Krenzelok said parents should try to find repellents with lower concentrations of DEET, such as 8, 10 or 12 percent. He also recommended against heavier, repeated applications.

DEET should be applied on a child’s clothing and exposed skin. It should not be applied to cuts or irritated skin. Parents should apply repellent to their own hands and then rub them over the child, keeping it out of a child’s eyes and mouth. Since children often place their hands in their mouths, parents should not let young children apply their own repellent, cautioned Marian Michaels, MD, a pediatrician in Infectious Diseases at Children’s.

In addition to using DEET, Dr. Michaels said there are other steps parents can take to protect their children from mosquitoes.

“Parents can deter mosquitoes by eliminating standing pools of water and wearing loose-fitting clothing during times when mosquitoes are most likely to bite – dusk and dawn,” Dr. Michaels said.

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 20, 2008
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Last Update
February 20, 2008