Straight, No Chaser: Avoiding Mosquito-Bourne Diseases
Sometimes things occur so frequently that you become sensitized to the real danger they present. This thought occurred to me when I saw Bill Gates talking about efforts to eliminate the various threats posed by mosquitoes. Yes, mosquitoes.
Including the damage humans inflict on each other during times of war, mosquitoes are responsible for more human suffering than any other organism on earth. Well over one million humans die every year from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes, and with worldwide travel having increased as it has, the risk is greater than ever. Even if you don’t know the diseases caused by mosquitos, you may have heard of them.
West Nile virus
Japanese B encephalitis
Getting into the specifics of these various diseases is beyond the scope of this particular post. What I’d like for you to appreciate is this list comprises various diseases with deadly consequences.
Furthermore, you’re not defenseless. There are steps you can take to lessen your risks. In the interest in making this manageable, I’m going to focus on the “Ds of mosquito prevention”, because as is the case with most things, prevention is more effective than attempting to cure a disease once it is obtained.
- Dusk and Dawn: Try to steer your activity away from the times when mosquitoes are most active.
- Drain: Get rid of standing water around your home. This is where mosquitoes will lay eggs.
- Dress: During those times when mosquitoes are most active, wear clothing that covers as much of your skin as practical.
- DEET: Use mosquito repellent. Repellents containing up to 30% DEET are effective. Additionally, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Here are a few other simple tips.
- Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home.
- Keep infants indoors or use mosquito netting over carriers.
- If you have a water garden, stock it with mosquito-eating fish, such as gambusia, goldfish, guppies or minnows.
- If you’re traveling, be aware of peak exposure times and places, and schedule around these times if possible. Avoid outbreaks.
Being just a bit more sensitive to the risks mosquitoes pose could be an important component of your overall health strategy. Be smart, and be healthy.