PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM
Viruses are smart - you must be smarter!
OK - so maybe smart is not the correct word to describe how viruses propagate themselves, but viruses are efficient. They are constantly changing and adapting. Through-out history they have evolved to find new ways to transmit themselves and overcome the natural immunities developed by living hosts and the drugs developed by man to fight them.
So how do we ‘outsmart’ these diseases? When it comes to the mosquito-borne viruses that are spreading rapidly across the United States and other countries this summer you need to take a multi-faceted approach. Simply using repellents is not enough; you must fight them on multiple fronts.
Your first approach should involve practical steps to limit the development of mosquito larvae into mature, biting, disease carrying mosquitos. One thing we should all do is eliminate as best as possible areas where they develop. Mosquito larvae need areas of standing, stagnant water to develop. These areas do not need to be large, a discarded tire with standing water in it can be a breeding ground for hundreds even thousands of mosquitos. Small containers like discarded cans; even paper cups can serve as breeding grounds. Find and discard or empty these items. Of course, it is not possible or even practical to eliminate all standing water for instance bird baths and small ponds or drainage areas. For these there are safe biological products that can be put into the water that will kill mosquito larvae without affecting the pets, birds or other harmless wildlife who drink or otherwise use the water found in these areas.
The second thing you can do is to eliminate the population of adult mosquitos in your immediate vicinity. Adult mosquitos do not travel far from the area where they developed from larvae. They use birds and other hosts to transmit the viruses they carry from their local environment to places far and wide. By eliminating the mosquitos in your local area you are significantly reducing the possibility of being bitten. There are several products available to help you do this. Mosquito traps that use carbon dioxide, heat, moisture and other attractants to lure mosquitos and them trap or zap them have been very popular this year. There are also yard foggers. Their effectiveness is short lived but used at the proper times of day - dusk or dawn - they will go a long way to cutting down on your local mosquito population.
Your third line of defense is stopping biting mosquitos from actually biting you. This can be done with something as simple as physical barriers, like mosquito netting or even long pants and shirt sleeves. Mosquito repellents should be used in addition to these physical barriers. The government recommends products contain at least 30% DEET, but for people who are allergic to this or simply do not want to expose themselves or their children to chemical repellents, there are many safe effective natural repellents on the market.
Finally use common sense. Your local health department will issue warnings if any mosquito-borne illnesses have been found to be present in your local area. Mosquitos are most active around dusk or dawn and the very old, very young and immune impaired are most susceptible to mosquito-borne viruses. Knowing this, take precaution not to expose yourself or your family to the conditions that are most likely to put you in danger of being bitten by disease carrying mosquitos.
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