An ounce of prevention

Published 8:17 am Monday, August 11, 2003

By Staff
Brian Giles Publisher
Within just the past few years the West Nile virus has spread from the East coast all the way to California. There have been documented cases in every state in the United States. There is growing concern about the less publicized but equally deadly Eastern equine encephalitis or EEE. We have West Nile and EEE cases right here in our own county. Should we panic? No. Concerned maybe. What can we do in Escambia County to protect ourselves?
First and foremost, the best way to cut down on the number of mosquitoes is to remove stagnant pools of water from your property. This can be done by filling in potholes, turning over empty flower pots, emptying children's swimming pools, cleaning bird feeders and so on. Take a walk around you property and look for standing water. If you have a drainage ditch that has standing water, visit the county health department. They have free Altosid larvicide briquettes that will kill mosquito larva from the water for up to 30 days.
Once you have eliminated standing water, there are some things that you can do to protect yourself further. You may want to start by simply avoiding peak mosquito times, which tend to be right around dusk and dawn. When you are planning on going outside, wear protective clothing. Avoid wearing sweet smelling perfumes and hair sprays, because they attract insects. Mosquitoes are also attracted by perspiration, heat and carbon dioxide. Try to avoid physically active movement especially during peak mosquito times.
There are several different brands of repellent on the market and the best ones contain DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). These are product such as OFF, Cutter and etc. that can be applied to the skin before going outside. These products are the most effective, but are chemicals and one should use caution when using these products. Read all instructions on the products before use. Be especially careful when applying these products to children.
There are several plant-based repellents on the market that can help, but are not as effective as the chemical repellents. Several studies have shown that citronella candles can be mildly effective. These candles should not be your primary source for protection, but do work well in conjunction with chemical repellents.
None of the mentioned steps will fully eliminate the threat of mosquitoes. Although, each step you take drastically reduces your chances of getting West Nile or EEE.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Brian Giles is publisher of the Atmore Advance and may be reached at 368-2123 or email at

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