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West Nile Virus Symptoms - Methods For Reducing Risk Of Exposure to Mosquitoes - Bug Repellant - Magnets - Bug Zappers - Nets

June 9th 2006

West Nile Virus Symptoms - Methods For Reducing Risk Of Exposure to Mosquitoes - Bug Repellant - Magnets - Bug Zappers - Nets

Blood Filled Mosquito

This is the beginning of the mosquito season and West Nile Virus (WNV) cases are expected this year again. The virus was first discovered in a febrile adult woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937.  Later it became apparent that the virus was responsible for cases of severe meningitis and encephalitis in elderly patients in Israel in 1957.  Since then it has spread to temperate regions of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, west and central Asia, Oceania (subtype Kunjin) and North America (since 1999).

The most serious manifestation of the WNV infection is fatal encephalitis.  Encephalitis is a condition where the brain swells.  Not everyone that contracts the virus will get severe symptoms.  Only about one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop a severe illness.  These symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.  Symptoms develop between 3 and 14 days after infection.


Although the symptoms can last for several weeks, the neurological effects may be permanent.  There are no treatments for the WNV, however if symptoms include severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately.  People over 50 years of age are more likely to develop serious symptoms.

The West Nile Virus is a relatively new phenomenon.   There are some things you can do to minimize the risk of contracting West Nile.  Many experts recommend an insect repellent that contains DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).  This insect repellent can be sprayed on clothing and will repel mosquitoes.  Adults should apply 30% (or less) DEET-containing repellant to any exposed skin.  Children should use the least concentrated DEET products (less than 10%).  This should be applied only once daily for children aged 6 months to 2 years. Infants under 6 months of age should not have DEET applied to their skin or clothes.  Adults can apply DEET up to 3 times daily.


Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not use DEET.  They should wear light colored clothes, including long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquitoes tend to be attracted to dark colored clothing.  Interestingly, West Nile Virus is able to be transferred from mother to child through breast milk.  It can not be transferred from person to person by touching.

You should avoid going outside during the hours when most mosquitoes are out (nighttime).  Keep water from collecting in flowerpots and planters.  If you have a small pond, or pool, keep the water aviated with a pump. Add chlorine to the water to kill mosquito larva.  Change the water in birdbaths regularly.    


Consider adding a screen to your patio and check it for holes regularly.  Some camping stores sell devices that repel mosquitoes by emitting sounds that imitate the sounds of the mosquito's natural enemies.  The mosquito’s natural enemies include: dragonflies, frogs, bats, birds, and beetles.  There are also alternatives to DEET including plant-based repellants such as citronella, Oil of lemon eucalyptus and soybean oil.  They are not as effective as DEET, but may have some effect. You can also install bat and bird houses to encourage bats and birds to hang-out.

Although DEET is an effective repellant, it may not be safe for young children.  Check with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.  

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

Mosquito Repellants

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Important:  The material on Best Syndication is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical care if you have any concern about your health, and you should always consult your physician before starting a fitness program.
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