April 25, 2003
Mississippians urged to avoid mosquito bites this summer
By Susan Christensen
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.--Summer safety includes protecting yourself from West Nile virus by avoiding mosquito bites. Doctors at Methodist Rehabilitation Center recommend everyone follow guidelines developed by the Centers for Disease Control and the Mississippi State Department of Health.
- Whenever you are outdoors use an insect repellant containing DEET on exposed skin. Follow the directions on the product to determine how often to apply. Repellents containing a higher concentration of active ingredient (such as DEET) provide longer-lasting protection. DEET does not kill mosquitoes; it just makes them unable to locate us. Repellents are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes flying nearby. As long as you are not getting bitten, there is no reason to apply more DEET.
- DEET has been tested against a variety of biting insects and has been shown to be very effective. The more DEET a repellent contains, the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of DEET in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better—just that it will last longer. DEET concentrations higher than 50 percent do not increase the length of protection.
- When possible, wear long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Treating clothes with repellents containing permethrin or DEET will give extra protection, since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
- The hours from dusk to dawn are peak mosquito biting times. Consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times -- or take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning.
- Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water such as discarded tires.
- At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
- Clean clogged rain gutters and check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.