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West Nile Tip of the Week

Steve AnthonyGarfield County Vegetation Management

Editor’s note: The Post Independent and Garfield County are teaming up to provide a West Nile tip of the week every Friday.As of July 28, 2004, there have been 50 confirmed cases of West Nile in Colorado. Eighteen of those cases are next door to us in Mesa County.This is the second of two parts dedicated to providing information on using mosquito repellents effectively and safely to minimize your exposure to the West Nile Virus.As we have been emphasizing in this space for the last few weeks the best way to reduce your risk to West Nile virus is: Don’t get bit by mosquitoes!There are many ways to do this that we have reviewed including ways to reduce mosquito breeding habitat around the home and landscape. Wearing long pants and sleeves and using repellent is the last line of defense when there are adult mosquitoesListed below are excerpts from information posted on the Center for Disease Control’s Web site on using repellents.Q. What are some general considerations to remember in order to use products containing DEET safely?A. Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label.Use enough repellent to cover exposed skin or clothing. Don’t apply repellent to skin that is under clothing. Heavy application is not necessary to achieve protection. Do not apply repellent to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. Do not spray aerosol or pump products in enclosed areas. Do not apply aerosol or pump products directly to your face. Spray your hands and then rub them carefully over the face, avoiding eyes and mouth. Q. How should products containing DEET be used on children?A. No definitive studies exist in the scientific literature about what concentration of DEET is safe for children. No serious illness has been linked to the use of DEET in children when used according the product recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health has recently updated their recommendation for use of DEET products on children, citing: “Insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) with a concentration of 10 percent appear to be as safe as products with a concentration of 30 percent when used according to the directions on the product labels.” The AAP and other experts suggest that it is acceptable to apply repellent with low concentrations of DEET to infants over 2 months old. Other guidelines cite that it is acceptable to use repellents containing DEET on children over 2 years of age.Repellent products that do not contain DEET are not likely to offer the same degree of protection from mosquito bites as products containing DEET. Non-DEET repellents have not necessarily been as thoroughly studied as DEET, and may not be safer for use on children.Parents should choose the type and concentration of repellent to be used by taking into account the amount of time that a child will be outdoors, exposure to mosquitoes, and the risk of mosquito-transmitted disease in the area. Persons who are concerned about using DEET or other products on children may wish to consult their health care provider for advice. The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) can also provide information through a toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378 or npic.orst.edu.Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children’s eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears. Do not apply repellent to children’s hands. (Children may tend to put their hands in their mouths.) Do not allow young children to apply insect repellent to themselves; have an adult do it for them. Keep repellents out of reach of children. Do not apply repellent to skin under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash treated clothing before wearing again. Using repellents on the skin is not the only way to avoid mosquito bites. Children and adults can wear clothing with long pants and long sleeves while outdoors. DEET or other repellents such as permethrin can also be applied to clothing (don’t use permethrin on skin), as mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric. Mosquito netting can be used over infant carriers. Finally, it may be possible to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area by getting rid of containers with standing water that provide breeding places for the mosquitoes.Q. Is DEET safe for pregnant or nursing women?A. There are no reported adverse events following use of repellents containing DEET in pregnant or breastfeeding women.Q. Are there any risks due to using repellents containing DEET?A. Use of these products may cause skin reactions in rare cases. If you suspect a reaction to this product, discontinue use, wash the treated skin, and call your local poison control center. There is a new national number to reach a Poison Control Center near you: 1-800-222-1222.If you go to a doctor, take the product with you. Cases of serious reactions to products containing DEET have often been related to occasions where the product was not used as directed, such as swallowing, using over broken skin, or using for multiple days without washing skin in between use, for example. Always follow the instructions on the product label.Q. Where can I get more information about repellents?A. For more information about using repellents safely, please consult the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site or consult the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), which is cooperatively sponsored by Oregon State University and the U.S. EPA. NPIC can be reached at: npic.orst.edu or 1-800-858-7378.Remember now is the time to use every precaution possible with mosquitoes. Our neighbors in Mesa County are currently getting hit hard with West Nile Virus. We have to anticipate that it could happen here and keep our guard up.For further information see the Fight the bite Web site: http://www.fightthebitecolorado.com/index.htm.For further information see the Fight the bite Web site: http://www.fightthebitecolorado.com/index.htm.


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