Though it may sound fairly exotic and something that couldn’t possibly happen in the United States, cases of people contracting this deadly virus have been climbing every year, particularly in the southeastern part of the country in states like Georgia.
As most of these infections start with a simple mosquito bite, making sure your outdoor area is free from these pests becomes less about comfort and even more about safety. You may not know it, but certain aspects of your yard could actually be enticing these critters to set up home, and thus putting you and your family at risk.
Severe Illness… Caused By A Mosquito?
According to a report by Fox News Atlanta, the CDC confirmed that 99 cases of West Nile Virus were confirmed in Georgia alone last year, with 6 of them becoming fatal. Alarmingly, signs of the sickness can take between 3 to 15 days to show up in a person, making it difficult to tell when they contracted it. Symptoms start out very much like flu, featuring headaches, muscle and joint aches and fever.
However, they then careen into dangerous territory with neck stiffness, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. Given the prolific nature of mosquitoes, is there anything that can be done to protect yourself and your loved ones? Below are 5 tips to combat the deadly virus and keep mosquitoes at bay:
1) Always wear mosquito repellent when outside during the warmer months. Mosquito repellent has come a long way from the days of greasy, smelly lotions and sprays. Repellent is more effective than ever before and can seriously decrease your chances of being bitten.
Look for products that feature good levels of DEET (the chemical used to keep bugs and ticks away). The Environmental Protection Agency confirms that these sprays and chemicals are safe to use if used as directed, though they do warn against using them on children younger than 2 months old.
2) Consult professional lawn care company. Mosquitoes need water to reproduce and love damp or mushy patches of your lawn to use as their breeding ground. Speak to a professional lawn care company to have them help identify potential problems with your yard and garden. They can advise on methods to help promote drainage, and many also offer mosquito proofing ideas that you may not have considered.
3) Be aware of local outbreaks and know the symptoms to look for. Visiting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) site on a monthly basis can help you to see if your community is experiencing an outbreak of the deadly West Nile Virus and allow you to get prepared.
You can also register for updates while you’re there. If you have been outside for extended periods of time, keep an eye out for anything suspicious, noting any swollen lymph nodes, rashes or flu-like symptoms
4) Ditch the water features. Mosquitoes love water and will zero in on properties that they feel will provide them with the best location to start breeding. Though they may be attractive, water features such as bird baths, ponds and pools can also make your home a target for disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Be sure ponds and water features are aerated at least every two weeks to discourage mosquitoes from settling there. Additionally, many homeowners find stocking these features with mosquito-eating fish or frogs can also help keep the population in control.
5) Burn citronella candles while outside. Using citronella to ward off nasty insects has been used for centuries, and regular use in your outdoor spaces can help boost your defenses against the dreaded mosquito. Look for outdoor candles and torches scented with the citrus-like smell and position them around your deck and property where you or your guests will be. Try lighting them at least 30 minutes prior to using the area to get the maximum result.
Not only are mosquitoes annoying, they can actually carry serious diseases that could harm you and your loved ones. Be prepared by warding them off in advance by using repellent sprays, getting your yard in gear and using citronella candles. It’s not only better for your outdoor activities, it’s better for your health.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and native of Georgia where mosquitoes are prevalent. She contributes this article as a way to highlight the dangers of the West Nile Virus. Utilizing the mosquito treatment she found on http://www.arbor-nomics.com will make her outdoor activity more pleasant as she plans for the summer months ahead.
Photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/48osX