Velocity Care explains how to keep your family safe
The West Nile virus … malaria … yellow fever … and now the Zika virus. For such a tiny insect, the mosquito causes more human suffering and anxiety than perhaps any other organism. According to the World Health Organization, mosquito-borne illnesses sicken hundreds of millions of people each year. There are only two places on Earth without mosquitoes (Antarctica and Iceland); the rest of us will have to learn to tolerate and adapt to the perpetual threat.
Velocity Care reviews the information you need to know to avoid mosquito bites, prevent their illnesses and keep your family protected.
Misconceptions about mosquito-borne illnesses
- All mosquitoes carry disease. Although there are more than 3,000 species of mosquitoes, only about a hundred are a concern to humans. In fact, most don’t bite humans at all; they prefer animals.
- Mosquitoes prefer to bite people who smell sweet. While some people do tend to get bit more than others, it’s carbon dioxide, lactic acid and certain bacteria that attract mosquitoes, not perfumes or high blood sugar.
- The biggest cause of mosquito-borne illnesses comes from the insects biting other people. In fact, the biggest culprit of mosquito-transmitted diseases is birds.
4 ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites
Since mosquitoes are such effective disease transporters, the best defense is not getting bitten in the first place. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
- Use insect repellant products on your skin.
Look for products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These products typically contain ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535, and they may have a special label signifying how long you can expect them to work. You can also check the EPA website.
- Don’t forget about clothing and shoes.
You can use an insecticide called permethrin to protect items like boots, tents and socks. Its defensive properties will last for a few washings. Just be sure not to use it on your skin.
- Defend your home.
Eliminate any standing water where mosquitoes like to breed. This includes old tires, empty flowerpots, toys and birdbaths. You should also make sure door and window screens are in good condition if you decide to keep them open. Use your air conditioning if possible.
- Limit your time outdoors during daylight hours.
This is the time that mosquitoes are most active.
How to tell if you have a mosquito-borne illness
For most people who contract mosquito-transmitted diseases, there are no symptoms at all. Approximately 20 percent of sufferers experience mild indicators such as a fever, sore throat and other flu-like ailments. These problems usually subside in less than a week.
The Zika virus symptoms are also typically quite mild. A small percentage of people might have a fever, pinkeye and a rash or muscle pain. Nonetheless, it has been linked to significant problems such as a birth defect called microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a nervous system disorder that can cause paralysis.
With the West Nile virus or encephalitis, a few people may experience a more serious infection, which leads to meningitis and swelling around the brain and spinal cord.
Other problems mosquito-borne diseases could cause include confusion, seizures and muscle weakness. Severe symptoms need to be treated by a doctor right away.
There is an increased risk for these illnesses if you travel to areas where the types of mosquitoes that are a threat to humans are more common.
When should you see a doctor about mosquito-borne illnesses?
If you experience more serious symptoms within three days of a mosquito bite, such as a fever, headache or signs of infection, contact a doctor. This is especially good advice for children, the elderly and anyone with other diseases that cause a compromised immune system.
The board-certified doctors at Velocity Care Urgent Treatment Center are available to see you right away. They will quickly diagnose any problem, start necessary treatment and get you back on track quickly. If you are concerned about symptoms following a mosquito bite, visit a walk-in clinic today.
Photo credit: 123RF Stock Photo
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