Defend yourself against mosquitoes

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As of July 9, the first Colorado case of West Nile Virus (WNV) disease has been reported to the national Center for Disease Control (CDC). This year's first case falls into the non-neuroinvasive category which carries its own problematic side-effects but is not as serious as the mosquito-borne neuroinvasive diseases which can be fatal.

Colorado's Fight the Bite© mosquito campaign provides a tip sheet with four important anti-mosquito safeguards all beginning with the letter 'D':

DRAIN standing water around the house weekly since it's where mosquitoes lay eggs, including: tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.

DUSK & DAWN are when mosquitoes that carry the virus are most active. So limit outdoor activities or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.

DRESS in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.

The Fight the Bite© website offers a host of information about preventive measures:

The chances of being bitten by an infected mosquito are extremely low.

According to CDC statistics, only a tiny fraction of mosquitoes carry the WNV. Of those bitten by an infected mosquito, eight out of ten people experience no symptoms at all. One in five will experience mild symptoms similar to influenza including headache, aches and pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. On average, only one person in every 150 bitten will experience severe symptoms which may lead to the brain and neurological disorders associated with encephalitis and meningitis. Of those with severe symptoms one in ten may die.

There were three WNV deaths in Colorado in 2018 including Ed Marston, a Paonia resident.

Severe symptoms include high fever and headache; neck stiffness; stupor and disorientation; tremors, convulsions and muscle weakness; numbness; loss of vision; coma and paralysis. A person with mild or severe symptoms should consult his health care provider. People over 60 and those with certain medical conditions appear to be at greater risk of severe symptoms. This includes people with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and those who have received organ transplants.

Infected mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, but it is prudent to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and insect repellent whenever outdoors. Apply sunscreen first and then repellent and 'refresh' the repellent if you perspire or skin comes in contact with water. Regarding repellent, a May 2018 article in Popular Science Magazine notes that insect repellents contain DEET (diethyltoluamide) in various concentrations ranging from 4-100%. Tests conducted by the magazine conclude that "concentrations of 30 percent provide the same protection as higher percentages for up to 8 hours."

Fight the Bite© recommends reading the repellent label to insure that the product is safe for use by children. Restrictions for adults only should be indicated on the product label. Fight the Bite© also suggests that various non-DEET products are not as effective as those containing DEET.

The Delta County Health Services Department website lists helpful information and links to other resources. It also provides a phone number for the West Nile Virus Colorado Health Education Line for the Public (CO-HELP): 1-877-462-2911. (You will be directed to a health care specialist who will answer your questions.)

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