The media has focused a lot of attention on mosquito bites over the past few years, because of the spread of the West Nile Virus. In reality, only a small percentage of mosquitoes are infected with the virus, and an even smaller percentage of people (about one percent) who are bitten by an infected mosquito come down with the most serious West Nile symptom—a brain inflammation called encephalitis.
Even though your child's risk of contracting West Nile is minimal, it's a good idea to take precautions, especially between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are at their most voracious:
- Before children over two years of age go outside, apply an insect repellant containing 10 to 30 percent of the ingredient DEET.
- Children under the age of two, who are too young for DEET, should be dressed in long pants and long-sleeved shirts in the evening to prevent a bite.
If you know that your child has been bitten by a mosquito, and she is running a very high fever, seems disoriented or dazed, or is extremely sensitive to light, call your pediatrician immediately.