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Bugs Creep Me Out — And the vampire bugs (a.k.a. mosquitoes), also carry the West Nile virus.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on July 17, 2007

By Catherine Morgan — cross posted at BlogHer

I hate mosquitoes, doesn’t everyone? These buggers can really get big too, and I’m pretty sure they are bigger here in Florida than they were in Pennsylvania.
 Cornell University
Last year one got in my house that was the size of a small bird…yuck, yuck, yuck. Bugs really creep me out. O.k. – before I give myself a bug anxiety attack, let me get to the point of this post. West Nile virus and how to prevent it.

West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Mosquitoes transmit the virus after becoming infected by feeding on the blood of birds carrying the virus.

Most people infected with the virus either have no symptoms or they have flu-like symptoms. Sometimes the virus can cause severe illness, resulting in hospitalization and even death. — read full article

Officials Warn West Nile Is Back

In 2006, 33 West Nile human fatalities were reported, and since 2002, 71 fatalities due to the virus have been reported in Texas, Schuster said, quoting state health service figures. — read full article

How do you know if you have West Nile Virus? The good thing is, 4 out of 5 people exposed to the West Nile Virus will not become ill. But for the 1 of 5 that will, here are some of the sypmptoms to look out for…

It is estimated that about 20% of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash (on the trunk of the body) and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can be as short as a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks. — read more from CDC

The symptoms of severe disease (also called neuroinvasive disease, such as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis or West Nile poliomyelitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, however people over age 50 and some immunocompromised persons (for example, transplant patients) are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV. — read more from CDC

To DEET or not to DEET…That is the Question? Lets see if we can find the answer.

Study after study shows DEET (Meta-N,N-diethyl toluamide) is the most effective mosquito repellant.

High concentrations or extended use of DEET can pose a health risk. The Centers for Disease Control/Prevention recommend using repellents with less than 50 percent DEET. (Health Canada recommends repellents with 30 percent DEET or less.)

Children should not use products that have more than 10 percent DEET, and it should be used sparingly.

A high concentration of DEET does not mean better protection; it gives longer protection. (For example, 30 percent DEET will give you about six hours of protection.) — read full article

There are also non-chemical alternatives you can try…

Essential Oils: Mix choice of essential oils with rubbing alcohol, or witch hazel, or distilled water and spritz on body or directly on cloth to rub on body (shake before each use). Or add a few drops in baby oil or olive oil then rub on skin. You can also apply drops along a strip of fabric (cotton) and tie around wrist. *Make sure to avoid mouth and eye areas when using essential oils.

* Citronella oil
* Lavender oil
* Catnip oil
* Eucalyptus oil
* Pennyroyal oil
* Basil oil
* Thyme oil
* Cedar oil
* Tea Tree oil
* Peppermint oil
* Lemongrass oil

Read full article.

Just as important as protecting your skin, you need to take measures to prevent these pesky vampire bugs from breeding near your home.

Many mosquitoes — but not all — breed in standing water. To fight them you need to get rid of any water in your yard. And that means any.

Toys, tarpaulins, clogged gutters, even discarded bottle caps — anything that will hold even a few teaspoons of water can serve as a mosquito breeding ground, said Joe Conlon, technical adviser for the American Mosquito Control Association. — read full article

Tips For Avoiding Mosquito Bites

As much as I hate mosquitoes, I have a confession to make. Even though they “bug” me, they never actually “bite” me. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was bitten by a mosquito. I still hate when they are swarming around, but when others are getting bit, I’m just getting bumped and landed on.

So why is it some people get bit by mosquitoes and some people don’t?

Scientific research has shown that if you are frequently bitten by mosquitoes, it is because of the smell you give off. Mosquitoes are attracted to the smells of certain people. If a person is rarely bitten, then his or her body gives off a smell that masks the scent that attracts mosquitoes. — read full post

And let’s not forget about our pets. Dogs can also get very sick from mosquito bites, not from West Nile, but from something called Heartworm. If you live in an area with a large mosquito population, you need to make sure your dog is treated with medication to prevent this parasite. Because if your dog does get heartworm, not only is it very costly to cure, but it is also very painful for your dog. Not for the squeamishpictures of heartworm and removal.

photo credit to Cornnell College

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8 Responses to “Bugs Creep Me Out — And the vampire bugs (a.k.a. mosquitoes), also carry the West Nile virus.”

  1. DSvT said

    Is that true?
    I only heard that Japan mosquitoes is big as bird, at US also the same?
    WOW~~

    I never heard about this WNV, Malaysia have this kind of virus or not?

  2. Last night I went outside only to see a moth the size of a robin flying toward me. I screamed like a (pardon the expression) little girl and ran into the house- slamming the door behind me. The thing kept flying against the window. I think it was out to get me.

  3. Hi “DSvT” — A very small bird. As for “Is WNV in Malaysia?”, this is the information I found…

    Could Kunjin virus mutate to be as virulent as recent West Nile strains seen in Europe and the US? Kunjin virus has been in our ecological system for many years without any apparent increase in virulence. Several mutations may be required to increase virulence substantially, and there seems little pressure to select for such mutations.

    Alternatively, could a more pathogenic strain of West Nile virus spread to Australia and, if it did, would it be able to establish itself in competition with Kunjin virus? West Nile virus has been isolated in Sarawak, Malaysia, and is endemic in western India; thus, it could conceivably spread slowly through the region. The virus is believed to have reached New York through carriage on an aircraft of an infected mosquito or an infected traveller with sufficient viraemia to infect a mosquito on arrival in the US. Similar mechanisms could allow its importation into Australia from the US, Europe or Africa. Although current disinsection procedures for aircraft are believed to minimise the first possibility, there is concern that an infected human traveller arriving in Australia might have sufficient viraemia to infect Australian mosquitoes. More information is urgently needed on viraemia levels during infection so that this risk can be properly assessed.

    this info is from http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/178_01_060103/mac10607_fm.html

  4. “Totaltransformation” — I guess your the wrong guy to call if someone needs a bug killed?

  5. liara said

    This post reminds me of a unique project I did back during university. I was interested in vampire bats and research that has been conducted to isolate the vampire bat saliva enzyme hirudin. Vampire bats evolved about 6-8 million years ago, long before the vampire legends arose in popular culture.

    Three active ingredients in the saliva of these bats help the blood flowing form their host allowing them to eat. One ingredient is an anticoagulant which prevents the blood from coagulating. The second ingredient is a chemical which prevents the red blood cells from sticking together. The last ingredient prevents the blood vessels from constricting under the wound itself.

    Many people mistakenly believe vampire bats kill for their feast of blood. This myth grew into vampire legends like Dracula from Transylvania. Vampire bats have been known to feast on dying animals, but they do not typically kill them first and they don’t even have to kill them at all. Compare this with mosquitos that latch on to your skin long enough for a feast of blood and then detach and fly away (if they’re not swatted).

  6. […] Apparently a group of concerned citizens set up camp with some folding chairs and a couple of stakes to watch over the community at night. On Monday night, they were approached by a vampire. Happily, the community watch members didn’t lose their heads – in fact, just the opposite. They said they were “utterly charmed” by the vampire, who called herself Estella and offered them some lemonade (Estella said she liked it when she was a mortal) and a citronella candle “to keep off the bloodsucking mosquitos.” […]

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