Mosquitoes are best known for one thing – biting and creating irritation to our skin. Although this may seem harmless enough, a mosquito bite can also spread diseases like West Nile.
This summer, mosquitos carrying West Nile have been confirmed in Louisiana. Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
Some infected individuals will develop fever with other symptoms such as: headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but the fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis – inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues.
The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis. About 10% of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus die.
Now that we are aware of a mosquito’s threat, how do we protect ourselves? The best way to avoid any of these diseases 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 four active ingredients in effective repellents: DEET (diethylmetatoluamide), picaridin, IR3535 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