Karla News

What’s More Dangerous: Blood-Sucking Mosquitoes or Bug Spray with D.E.E.T.?

Insect Repellents, Nile, West Nile, West Nile Virus

You have turned off the lights and crawled into bed after a long day. You are just drifting off to sleep and then you hear it – that irritating, high pitched buzz of a mosquito at your ear. Off go the covers, on goes the light, and you know that you aren’t getting a wink of sleep until you find that blood sucker and kill it.

Because of a damp and early summer, the mosquito population has boomed. This may be alright for birds and bats who feast on the nasty insects, but for us, this is exasperating and a potential health hazard. Mosquitoes can carry the West Nile Virus, and we need to do all that we can to protect ourselves from it.

What is the West Nile Virus? This virus can cause serious, life-changing, and fatal disease. The virus was first isolated from a febrile adult woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937. The virus first appeared in North America in 1999. According to the CDC as of July 10, 2007, there have been West Nile Virus human disease cases in California, Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Experts believe that West Nile Virus is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that breaks out in summer and continues into the fall.

What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus? Symptoms range from none to severe. About 80% of people who are infected won’t have any symptoms at all. Up to about 20% of infected people experience body aches, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, a skin rash on the back, chest, and stomach, and sometimes swollen lymph glands. These milder symptoms can last from a few days to as long as several weeks. About one in 150 people will develop a severe illness. These symptoms can include paralysis, numbness, high fever, headache, stupor, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, coma, muscle weakness, convulsions, and vision loss. Unfortunately, these symptoms can last several weeks and the neurological effects may be permanent. If people are going to get sick, symptoms typically develop between 3 and 14 days after being bitten. People over 50 years old are at higher risk of getting severe illness.

See also  Complication of Primary Immunodeficiency - Chronic & Recurring Infections

What can we do to prevent West Nile Virus? Wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are doing their worst. Mosquitoes love standing water. Change water in your bird baths weekly. Empty standing water from flower pots. Keep your children’s wading pools empty when they aren’t in use. Use insect repellent.

As we can see, the mosquito is no harmless bug. Let’s have a look at the insect repellents that we’re advised to use to ward off the body biters. We need to be especially aware of repellents containing D.E.E.T and a chemical called Permethrin. These repellents are not intended for everyday use. No chemical repellent product is.

What is D.E.E.T? The chemical makeup of this is N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. It doesn’t kill bugs. It only deters them from biting. The higher the concentration of this chemical and prolonged use of it, the more chance we have of suffering the effects of it. If it’s going to be used, it should be used as directed.

Why should D.E.E.T be used with caution? It’s been shown that this chemical can have damaging effects on brain cells. After frequent and prolonged use, neurons have died in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, memory, concentration, and learning. These findings have been reported by the military after troops were heavily exposed to D.E.E.T and suffered the damaging effects.

Insect repellents containing D.E.E.T should never be used on infants. Hesitate to use these on children too since they are more likely to have brain changes caused by chemicals within their environment. Their skin also more readily absorbs these chemicals.

See also  Top Five Best Organic Mosquito Repellents

Be sure not to use other insecticides in conjunction with D.E.E.T. Be aware that even over-the-counter medications can interact with D.E.E.T and cause toxic effects. The EPA has classified it as moderately toxic. They say it harms birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.

The makers of D.E.E.T products and other people who are fans of the products are likely to say that theirs is the safest insect repellent for protection against mosquitoes, particularly for children. Given the findings, I would say that if D.E.E.T is the safest, I would hate to find out what the other repellents are capable of doing to one’s brain.

Although D.E.E.T is rather effective in keeping mosquitoes at bay, it seems we have hit a stalemate. Both the mosquito and the D.E.E.T seem to be potentially hazardous to our health. So what do we do?

The biggest complaint about alternative insect repellents is that they do not work. I’ve tried a few myself and found that to be true. The plants that have been tested for use as repellents are the essential oils from basil, allspice, cedar, citronella, cinnamon, geranium, garlic, pine, lavender, peppermint, pennyroyal, thyme, and rosemary. Although they have repellent properties, they have short-lasting results compared with D.E.E.T.

Catnip is nearly 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than D.E.E.T. Results from tests done have shown effective when put on items such as tents and clothing. Two entomologists boiled catnip leaves and distilled the active ingredient nepetalactone. This left them with the experimental catnip repellent. Human and animal tests still need to be done.

See also  OFF! Vs. CUTTER Insect Repellents - One Is More Effective

Stay vigilant in your fight against the bite of the mosquito. I live in Wisconsin. The joke is that Wisconsin’s state bird is the mosquito. I’m thinking our state is not alone in that.