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Friday, May 31, 2013

Two Things to Avoid This Summer: Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus!

Mosquitoes and summer come at the same time. You might say mosquitoes come with the territory. In most cases, mosquito bites are just an annoyance. But for people over 50 and those with weak immune systems, it can be much more than annoying. It can trigger severe illness from disease. West Nile Virus is one of those diseases.

West Nile Virus is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito. In 2012, the U.S. had the second worst outbreak of West Nile Virus since 1999, with the worst outbreak occurring in 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Mosquitoes get the virus from infected birds, then spread the virus to other animals and humans.

About 80 percent of people infected will not have any symptoms. About 20 percent will develop symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, headache and body aches, swollen lymph glands and skin rash. One in 50 people will develop more serious symptoms which include those mentioned, in addition to vision loss, paralysis, convulsions, tremors and coma. These symptoms require immediate medical attention.

The best protection is to avoid being bitten. There are ways to protect yourself against mosquito bites. Here are some recommendations from CDC:

  • Use insect repellents that contain active ingredients, approved by the EPA. Look for these active ingredients when purchasing repellents: DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD, or IR3535.
  • Avoid standing water. This is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Check all your screens and patch any holes to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
  • Avoid being outside at dawn or dusk as this is the time when mosquitoes are most active.

There are even plants and flowers that have been linked to repelling mosquitoes. These include citronella, marigolds, catnip, horse mint, rosemary and ageratum. You can purchase lemon eucalyptus oil from health food stores, mix a couple drops with a cup of water in a spray bottle and use it as a repellent. You can also burn citronella candles around your house and on your patio table when you're outside. If you do get bit by mosquitoes, symptoms will occur within 3 to 14 days. If symptoms develop, see your doctor right away.

DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practictioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.