Thursday, June 11, 2009

Take precautions against mosquitoes

Published 11 June 2009 The Observer, La Grande, OR

Focus on Health
Tristin Mock, ND

Take precautions against mosquitoes
Tristin Mock, ND
AmeriCorps VISTA

As we enter the warm days of late spring, mosquito season is starting. Now is the time to start taking precautions to protect yourself from bites. Not only are mosquitoes annoying, they also can transmit West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes to humans, horses, and birds. In humans symptoms can vary widely. Some people may have a mild fever, or flu-like illness. In others the disease can progress to encephalitis (brain inflammation) and possibly death.

Killing mosquitoes should not be your goal. They provide food for animals including fish, frogs, birds, and bats. Mosquitoes can even pollinate flowers! Instead, focus on preventing mosquito bites and eliminating mosquito breeding sites around your home.

There are several simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from West Nile Virus. You should avoid mosquito bites by using repellant, covering up, and staying indoors at dusk and dawn. Classic synthesized repellants include DEET and picaridin. Repellants need not contain harsh chemicals. Some naturally derived mosquito repellants recommended by the CDC are oil of lemon eucalyptus, PMD (para-Menthane-3,8-diol), and IR3535 (3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester). No matter what type of repellant you use, be sure to read and follow the label directions before applying it!

You should also mosquito-proof your home. This includes installing or repairing screens, avoiding standing water, and cleaning up possible sources of standing water. Remember to clean your gutters so water doesn’t collect in them. Water sources, like bird baths and water troughs, should be cleaned at least once a week.

The last step in limiting the spread of West Nile Virus is to report dead birds. The virus can infect birds. If you find dead crows, ravens, jays, magpies, hawks, eagles, or red-breasted robins please report them to Union County Vector Control at 963-2974. These reports aid in tracking the spread of West Nile Virus in Union County.

Together we can prevent the spread of West Nile Virus. For more information on the virus, please visit the Center for Human Development, Inc website, or call 962-8801.
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