Enjoyable time out of doors can sometimes be cut short by the arrival of biting mosquitos. In addition to being annoying, mosquitos are actually quite dangerous as they may carry illnesses such as West Nile Virus. In fact, to date, a total of 34 states (including Maryland) have reported cases of West Nile Virus in either people or animals, according to the CDC. Thankfully, there are many preventative measures that may be taken to prevent mosquito bites, including several natural remedies.
Dangers of Mosquito Bites
Throughout many sub-tropical areas of the world, diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever are attributed to mosquito bites. People over the age of 50 are considered to be at a higher risk of developing disease as a result of a bite from an infected mosquito and may develop a more severe form of the disease if their immune system is compromised. In the US, the following diseases are carried by mosquitos:
- West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV contains strains of Yellow Fever, the Zika Virus and Dengue Fever. Contact with the disease often results in flu-like symptoms or fever, but many people exhibit no symptoms at all. For others, a serious illness that affects the nervous system can develop as a result of the virus. Most symptoms go away on their own, but severe symptoms require immediate attention.
- Zika Virus. Zika is transmitted by Aedes mosquitos, which typically bite during the day. Symptoms are generally very mild but can include joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, rash and headaches. Zika is particularly dangerous for pregnant women as it can cause birth defects. In some cases, Zika exposure can result in paralysis.
- Bacterial Infections. As with any bug bite, too much scratching can lead to a bacterial infection and in some cases this can become very dangerous.
Natural Mosquito Prevention
Although studies show that the most effective mosquito repellents include DEET, Picaridin or IR 3535, there are other natural methods that are worth trying. Researchers are constantly trying to find or develop new mosquito repellents that include non-chemical materials. Below are some guidelines to help avoid getting bitten.
- Stay inside during peak mosquito hours. Although mosquitos can bite during any time of the day, they tend to swarm at dusk and dawn. Stay inside during these times, or be sure to take extra precautions.
- Wear protective clothing. Mosquitos love to bite areas of the body with thicker skin, such as ankles, wrists, feet and lower legs. Combat this by wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and thick socks. Light-colored clothing can be helpful as well since bugs tend to be attracted to darker colors.
- Avoid perfumes and other scents. Heavily-scented perfumes, lotions or hair products can attract mosquitos and other flying bugs.
- Try a natural mosquito repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus, citronella, clove, peppermint, lemongrass, neem oil, catnip and thyme are all natural products that can be effective for mosquito prevention. Remember to follow the directions for use printed on the label when trying any type of mosquito spray.
- Plan in advance for any travel outside the US. For travel abroad, be sure to visit the CDC’s resources for travelers before you go.
If a mosquito bite results in any negative symptoms, consult with your doctor right away. Many over-the-counter remedies such as oral or cream antihistamines can be effective for treating bug bites.
Lighthouse Senior Living is the premier option for assisting living in Columbia, MD and Baltimore County. Schedule a tour today to better understand how our residents and staff embrace the Lighthouse spirit.