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Everyday Wellness: How To Avoid Mosquitoes This Summer

Mosquitoes are annoying and may carry diseases.

Here’s one more reason to be tired of all this rain. It’s creating prime breeding ground for the blood-sucking harbinger of summer - the mosquito. When I was a kid, we had to come home when the streetlights came on, and for that last hour of hide-n-seek, all of us got eaten alive by the mosquitoes. We knew they were annoying, but now we know they can also be dangerous.

According to the Ohio Department of Health’s mosquito brochure, in Ohio, mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus and several forms of viral encephalitis. Most people who are infected with mosquito-borne viruses have no symptoms, or mild symptoms like headaches or muscle aches. But in some cases they can cause serious illness or even death. Those older than 50, under 16 and with other illnesses are the most at-risk.

To protect yourself the Ohio Department of Health has the following suggestions:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants, especially during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use mosquito repellent, but make sure products used on children have less than 10 percent DEET.
  • Keep screens closed and in good repair.
  • Keep weeds cut short because mosquitoes like to rest on tall weeds.
  • Eliminate standing water in gutters, buckets, toys and bird baths.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend using a mosquito repellent containing DEET or picaridin. They also say that products containing the plant-based repellent, oil of lemon eucalyptus, have also been proven to repel mosquitoes as effectively as products with a lower DEET concentration.

, and all have a large selection of mosquito repellents, including those made with DEET and picaridin. CVS had one with citronella oil as the active ingredient, and I found a few plant-based repellents at in Fairlawn, including one made with the oils of citronella, soybean, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass and geranium.

When using any mosquito repellent, the Centers for Disease Control recommend following the label directions and taking these precautions: Don’t apply repellents to cuts, wounds or irritated skin; wash with soap and water when returning to the indoors; do not spray repellents directly on face and don’t apply them to children’s hands. They also say that a heavy application isn’t necessary; just reapply the product according to the label recommendations.

We don't have streetlights in our neighborhood now, and instead of hide-n-seek, my boys and I play kickball. I guess I have to decide which is riskier: Mosquito-borne viruses or using mosquito repellents. Because we're certainly not coming in early.

Heather McGahee May 30, 2011 at 05:41 PM
Thanks for all the good ideas and specifics; your articles are really helpful. I remember when I was a kid they used to have trucks that sprayed toxic pink clouds to kill mosquitoes. Kids (myself included) used to love to run behind them in the clouds of poison, which actually smelled good (in a magic market kind of way). I wonder what we now consider harmless that will be horrifying in 30 years?

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