Because we believe in total body health and always have our ear to the ground when it comes to hot issues, especially those that have to do with the skin, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into all the news about the West Nile Virus that’s become more prevalent in recent times.

As you probably already know, the West Nile Virus is transmitted from mosquitoes bites.  But did you know that the virus itself actually originates from birds?  The mosquito bites the bird, then the human, and then presto!  The virus is transmitted to the human with sometimes disastrous results.   Symptoms can be as small as flu symptoms or as serious as paralysis or even death.  Of course, as is true with most influenzas, those most at risk are either very old, very young, or those who have compromised immune systems.

The mosquito itself needs blood to produce eggs, so they are biologically motivated to bite you.  They track you down by detecting the carbon dioxide the air you exhale, your sweat, body heat…things that you just can’t hide from them.   So how do you protect yourself?

Lynn Peterson from the Center of Disease Control gave the following suggestions in a recent telebriefing:

  • Use insect repellent when you go out.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Use air conditioning (we’d like to add that if mosquitoes aren’t prevalent in your area, you may be able to get away with leaving your window open with a screen).
  • Keep away from standing water, such as that found in gutters, kiddie pools, and birdbaths.

We want to add that this is especially pertinent if you live near an area where mosquitoes like to congregate, like near water or in cooler, damp areas.

Being bit by a mosquito doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to contract the West Nile Virus or that you will even get sick.  However, it’s good to note if you have anything that resembles a bug bite (especially if it’s swollen and itchy like a mosquito bite) so you can be wary of any flu-like systems that might clue you that you should see a doctor just to make sure you’re okay.

What do you do to treat bug bites?  What have you found that best helps to relieve the itching and swelling?


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