Insect Repellent: It keeps you from being what’s for dinner.

Insect Repellent: It keeps you from being what’s for dinner.

by Posted on: August 2, 2012Categories: LiveWell 24/7   

The summer is almost over…which means that cooler weather (finally!), chili and cornbread, football season, and all of the joys of fall are on the way. However, mosquitos are still on the prowl in the south – and will probably be hanging around for the next few months. Just last week I attended a cook out and got bitten 7 times! Having said that, there have already been a few confirmed diagnoses of West Nile Virus in South Carolina – which makes getting bitten even scarier!

Be sure to follow these simple rules from the CDC to prevent becoming someone’s dinner:

Insect Repellent: It keeps you from being what’s for dinner.

There are always excuses for not using repellent— forgot it, didn’t want to go back and get it, it doesn’t smell good, it’s not in the budget, or “mosquitoes don’t bite me”…

Think of repellent as you would an important article of clothing, and increase your chances of avoiding weeks (or even months) of aches and fatigue that come with West Nile fever, dengue fever, or any number of other mosquito borne diseases. More severe problems are possible. Being hospitalized with swelling of the brain, or even worse, are possibilities from many of these diseases.

What repellent should I use? CDC recommends a variety of effective repellents. The most important step is to pick one and use it. There are those that can protect you for a short while in the backyard or a long while in the woods. DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus are all repellents recommended by CDC. All contain an EPA-registered active ingredient and have been studied to make sure they are effective and safe. EPA has a long listing of repellent brands in the United States.

When should you wear repellent? Mosquitoes can bite anytime. Most of the mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus bite from around sundown to around sun-up (throughout the night). Put a few bottles or packets of repellent around—in the car, by the door, in a purse or backpack.

Where are mosquitoes a problem? Almost all of the continental United States has had reports of people getting sick with West Nile virus. But there are areas of the United States where people are more likely to get severely ill, and these areas can change from year to year. Outbreaks of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), LaCrosse encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis are not as common as West Nile virus, but outbreaks can be severe. EEE has been a significant problem in the North East in recent years. Texas, Florida, and Hawaii have all reported people ill with dengue in recent years. Every year, Puerto Rico reports people getting ill with dengue virus.

What to do about mosquitoes in my area? Mosquito control by your local government won’t get rid of every last mosquito, but when you also use repellents, you can markedly reduce your chances of getting bitten. Ask local officials about starting a mosquito control program in your city or county if it doesn’t exist already.


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