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West Nile Virus, Mosquitoes & Bug Spray

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention announced that this year’s West Nile Virus outbreak is the worst in U.S. history. Texas appears to be the center of this outbreak, with other nearby states including Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi all reporting cases. In total, 1118 cases and 41 deaths have been reported so far, with 537 cases and 19 deaths in Texas alone. What’s more, this outbreak has not yet peeked with more cases expected through September. Last week, Dallas declared a West Nile emergency.

West Nile Virus is carried by mosquitoes, making protecting oneself from insect bits of paramount importance. A number of insect repellents are currently available.

DEET is one of the most common active ingredients in insect repellent. Depending on the concentration, DEET will protect from bites and strings for 2-5 hours after applying.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, insect repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET and should not be applied to newborns and children under 2 months of age.

Other preparations containing Picaridin or more natural ingredients such as lemon, soybean oil, eucalyptus and cedar are also available and have been found to be effective in repelling mosquitoes.

Furthermore, avoiding high risk areas such as free standing pools of water like puddles and bird baths. These are the areas where mosquitoes like to hang out. Don’t go out at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes swarm. Covering up with long sleeves and pants and wearing dark clothing has also been shown to deter mosquitoes.

The symptoms of West Nile usually appear anywhere for a few days to a couple weeks after you have been bitten. If you develop any fever with neurologic symptoms after a bite, make sure too seek medical help immediately.