Mosquitoes are starting to buzz around the state, and health officials sending out the warning to be aware and take precautions to stay safe from mosquito-borne diseases. The Casper-Natrona County Health Department says the biting bugs can pass on many diseases, including deadly ones.

Officials say the most common of these is West Nile Virus, which causes symptoms including headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.  Less than 1% of those who are infected by West Nile Virus may develop swelling of the brain or surrounding tissues.  The people at greatest risk for severe disease are those over 60 years old, or whose immune systems are compromised. Currently, there's no vaccine available for West Nile Virus.

Another disease transmitted by mosquito is Western Equine Encephalitis. Officials say it's rare and has similar symptoms to West Nile Virus, but swelling of the brain or surrounding tissues is more common with Western Equine Encephalitis.

Here are some ways you can prevent mosquito bites:

  • Mosquitoes can breed in as little as one inch of water, so check for areas of standing water around your yard including items like bird baths, buckets, tires, and the like.  Empty or change the water weekly.
  • Check your screens and make sure they're free of holes. If you find any, repair or replace the screens.
  • Use mosquito spray with DEET, and wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially in the mornings and evenings
  • If you have a septic tank, check it for cracks or broken piping and make repairs as needed.
  • Use an insect spray to treat damp, dark places outside your house.

You can learn more about West Nile Virus and mosquito control and prevention HERE.