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Mosquitoes are no longer just a minor irritant

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on July 14, 2003:

Senator Dyson Mosquitoes are a minor annoyance no longer. Gone are the days when we would mildly suffer the effects of a bite for a few hours. Now, that bite can be deadly.

West Nile virus is here to stay for the near future and experts anticipate that this summer will be far worse than it has been since the virus was discovered in 1999. These experts base these predictions on the fact that the East Coast has just experienced one of the rainiest springs and summers in years.

Mosquitoes thrive in these types of conditions and have been busy breeding while weíve been dodging the raindrops. Now, they have hatched and are making quite a menace of themselves.

Last year in Maryland, there were 36 documented cases of West Nile including seven deaths, one that occurred in Southern Maryland. Many more cases are expected this year, according to experts with the Maryland Department of Agriculture because there are so many more mosquitoes out there.

It is therefore imperative that we all become much more aware of the dangers these mosquitoes and this virus are capable of reaping in the upcoming days and months.

There are many ways you can protect yourselves from being bitten by mosquitoes and possibly contracting this virus.

First of all, protect your house and yard by getting rid of standing water and making sure you have new screens in your windows. Do not open your windows unless they have screens.

Also, avoid being outdoors for lengthy times during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

While the summers in Southern Maryland are usually hot, humid and muggy and people like to wear shorts and T-shirts, it is still advisable to wear long trousers and shirts that cover as much of your body as possible.

Since the best part of the summer is enjoying the outdoors, Iím certainly not suggesting you hide inside to avoid these pesky little insects.

Certainly continue your daily routine on the boat, in the pool or cooking out. Just make sure you protect yourself with proper mosquito repellent. Make sure you get the right kind. These are repellents that are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This seal of approval will be on these repellents such as the brand names Off or Cutter.

Donít fall for a budding cottage industry that is selling creams, oils and lotions advertising that they not only make your skin clean and moist, but at the same time repel mosquitoes. If they are not EPA approved, they most likely do nothing to repel mosquitoes. Devices such as bug zappers and ultra sonic repellers cost a lot, but are virtually useless mosquito combatants.

The EPA approved repellents can be purchased at virtually any place that sells consumer products such as your local supermarket, farm and garden, outdoors or hardware stores.

If you do believe you have West Nile symptoms, donít hesitate to contact your doctor immediately. If a mosquito has bitten you and a few days or a week later you feel flu-like symptoms such as nausea, headaches or feel dizzy seek out your physician.

From there, a blood sample will be taken to see if you have those symptoms. I do not mean to be doom and gloom. I just want to pass on a cautionary message. There is help on the way. Experts believe the Federal Drug and Food Administration will approve a vaccine for the West Nile virus in three to five years. Currently, an effective vaccine for horses has already proven effective.

So, until a human vaccine is discovered, take these simple steps to protect yourself against this virus.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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