June 15, 2016
By: Karl Blessinger, MD - Pathologist
Family reunions, picnics, baseball, camping, boating and hiking ... all favorites of the summer season! These activities provide lots of laughs and memories to look back on when cold weather rolls back around. However, mosquitoes can ruin the great summertime activities that we love here in the Midwest. Keep summer fun with these tips on preventing mosquito bites.
- Wear insect repellent: When used as directed, insect repellent is the best way to prevent you from mosquito bites. Products that contain deet, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR2525 can all help ward off pesky mosquitoes. For those that cannot handle repellent on their skin, the clip on fan repellent devices work well.
- Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts or pants.
- Wear bright or light colors: Mosquitoes are highly visual, especially later in the afternoon, and their first mode of search is through color. People dressed in dark colors – black, navy blue and red – stand out.
- Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
- Empty or avoid containers with standing water.
It is important to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes because mosquito bites are not just annoying and itchy. Mosquitos carry numerous diseases including West Nile virus and Zika virus. Most people (70-80 percent) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. For those individuals who develop symptoms from West Nile virus, symptoms include: headaches, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people infected with the Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they didn’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis.
Midwesterners have already experienced West Nile virus but Zika virus is a new concern. If you’re planning to travel to an area with Zika virus, be sure to take precautions. Zika virus can spread from mother to child while in the womb. Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. If you’re pregnant and traveling, please consult your physician.
Summer is all about sun and enjoying the great outdoors! Enjoy the short season of summer but do not forget to keep yourself and your family safe from mosquitoes.
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