West Nile virus is in the news again, with 31 cases reported by the CDC for 2013. While Georgia has recorded only one case, Aug. and Sept. are the prime months for large mosquito populations and for most reported cases of the virus.
Only one out of five people who become infected will develop symptoms of the disease. Fever, headache, body aches and vomiting are the major symptoms of West Nile.
The virus can cause encephalitis or meningitis, an infection of the brain. Because there is no treatment for the potentially deadly virus and no vaccines to prevent it, keeping infected mosquitoes away from the house and yard is the only defense against West Nile.
Insect repellents with DEET are usually very reliable against mosquitoes. The higher number of the DEET ingredient, the longer a person can remain outside before needing to spray again. Many people are concerned about the dangers of DEET and other commercial insect repellents. There are natural ingredients that do a good job of repelling most insects.
- Lemon and eucalyptus oils blended together and delivered in an alcohol or carrier oil base will repel mosquitoes.
- Geranium oil is a natural insect repellent. Essential oils should be in an alcohol or carrier oil base.
- Mixing two or more repellents will be more likely to repel different types of mosquitoes. Citronella, cinnamon and rosemary oils are diverse enough to blend in a carrier of castor oil.
- Lemongrass, peppermint and clove oils work well together in sweet almond oil.
There are several things to do around the home that will discourage mosquitoes.
- Empty all containers of rain water and turn them upside down.
- Clean the rain gutters and make sure there is nothing to stop the flow of water.
- Don’t keep old tires around the house.
- Cover all pools. Make sure the pool cover doesn’t hold water.
- Clean and replace birdbath water daily. Mosquitoes like stagnant water.
To enjoy your own backyard in the evenings:
- Wear white and tell all guests to come in black. Mosquitoes seek dark colors.
- Never wear perfume.
- Don’t sweat. Make others do all the work. Mosquitoes seek out the sweaters.
- Plant chrysanthemums. They contain a natural repellent.
Keep your sense of humor. Don’t let the mosquitoes win the war.