Take the Bite Out of Spring
Mosquitoes can be more than a nuisance -- they can ruin your outdoor plans and threaten your health. So it’s a good idea to protect yourself and your family as the weather heats up.
Mosquitoes rest during the day in dark, humid areas, then come out at dusk to feed on animals and humans. The skin irritation you feel after a bite is your allergic reaction to their saliva.
Mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus (WNV), can be passed through just one bite. Still, the chances of any given bite causing the disease are very low.
WNV, a potentially serious illness, is a seasonal scourge in North America that flares up in the summer and lasts into the fall. In 2006, 4,180 cases were reported, with 149 deaths.
“We’ve had outbreaks of West Nile virus in every state but Maine and in every year since it was discovered in the U.S. in 1999,” says Christine M. Pearson, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “There’s every reason to believe that it’s here to stay.”
The best way to avoid WNV is to avoid mosquito bites.
The most direct approach may be the use of a mosquito repellent — and Americans have more options than ever. The CDC recommends three active ingredients in effective repellents: DEET (diethylmetatoluamide), picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
As temperatures rise, follow these safety measures to cut down on bites:
Use insect repellent outside.
Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks.
Stay indoors, especially at dusk and dawn.
Fix window and door screens.
Get rid of breeding sites, such as all forms of standing water.
Keep grass and weeds cut short.
Use mosquito netting if you sleep outdoors.
Don’t depend on insect light electrocuters (“bug zappers”) to control mosquitoes. They do little to reduce biting in an area.
Think of these steps as a way to bite back.