By Catherine Morgan — cross posted at BlogHer
I hate mosquitoes, doesn’t everyone? These buggers can really get big too, and I’m pretty sure they are bigger here in Florida than they were in Pennsylvania.
Last year one got in my house that was the size of a small bird…yuck, yuck, yuck. Bugs really creep me out. O.k. – before I give myself a bug anxiety attack, let me get to the point of this post. West Nile virus and how to prevent it.
West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito.
Mosquitoes transmit the virus after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus.
Most people infected with the virus either have no symptoms or they have flu-like symptoms. Sometimes the virus can cause severe illness, resulting in hospitalization and even death. — read full article
Officials Warn West Nile Is Back
In 2006, 33 West Nile human fatalities were reported, and since 2002, 71 fatalities due to the virus have been reported in Texas, Schuster said, quoting state health service figures. — read full article
How do you know if you have West Nile Virus? The good thing is, 4 out of 5 people exposed to the West Nile Virus will not become ill. But for the 1 of 5 that will, here are some of the sypmptoms to look out for…
It is estimated that about 20% of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks. — read more from CDC
The symptoms of severe disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV. — read more from CDC
To DEET or not to DEET…That is the Question? Lets see if we can find the answer.
Study after study shows DEET (Meta-N,N-diethyl toluamide) is the most effective mosquito repellant.
High concentrations or extended use of DEET can pose a health risk. The Centers for Disease Control/Prevention recommend using repellents with less than 50 percent DEET. (Health Canada recommends repellents with 30 percent DEET or less.)
Children should not use products that have more than 10 percent DEET, and it should be used sparingly.
A high concentration of DEET does not mean better protection; it gives longer protection. (For example, 30 percent DEET will give you about six hours of protection.) — read full article
There are also non-chemical alternatives you can try…
Essential Oils: Mix choice of essential oils with rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel, or distilled water and spritz on body or directly on cloth to rub on body (shake before each use). Or add a few drops in baby oil or olive oil then rub on skin. You can also apply drops along a strip of fabric (cotton) and tie around wrist. *Make sure to avoid mouth and eye areas when using essential oils.
* Citronella oil
* Lavender oil
* Catnip oil
* Eucalyptus oil
* Pennyroyal oil
* Basil oil
* Thyme oil
* Cedar oil
* Tea Tree oil
* Peppermint oil
* Lemongrass oil
Read full article.
Just as important as protecting your skin, you need to take measures to prevent these pesky vampire bugs from breeding near your home.
Many mosquitoes — but not all — breed in standing water. To fight them you need to get rid of any water in your yard. And that means any.
Toys, tarpaulins, clogged gutters, even discarded bottle caps — anything that will hold even a few teaspoons of water can serve as a mosquito breeding ground, said Joe Conlon, technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association. — read full article
Tips For Avoiding Mosquito Bites
As much as I hate mosquitoes, I have a confession to make. Even though they “bug” me, they never actually “bite” me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was bitten by a mosquito. I still hate when they are swarming around, but when others are getting bit, I’m just getting bumped and landed on.
So why is it some people get bit by mosquitoes and some people don’t?
Scientific research has shown that if you are frequently bitten by mosquitoes, it is because of the smell you give off. Mosquitoes are attracted to the smells of certain people. If a person is rarely bitten, then his or her body gives off a smell that masks the scent that attracts mosquitoes. — read full post
And let’s not forget about our pets. Dogs can also get very sick from mosquito bites, not from West Nile, but from something called Heartworm. If you live in an area with a large mosquito population, you need to make sure your dog is treated with medication to prevent this parasite. Because if your dog does get heartworm, not only is it very costly to cure, but it is also very painful for your dog. Not for the squeamish — pictures of heartworm and removal.
photo credit to Cornnell College