Current Health Topic
December 18, 2012

Protection Against Mosquitos

photo Aside from causing discomfort, mosquitos can spread a number of diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. Therefore, it's important to reduce or prevent mosquito bites with the following tips.

Insect repellents are some of the best tools for helping to reduce exposure to mosquito bites. Using insect repellent allows you to keep playing and working outdoors with a lower likelihood of bites. Keep in mind that repellents reduce the chance of being bitten, but aren't always full-proof.

Apply repellent when you are going to be outdoors. Even if you don't notice mosquitoes there is a good chance that they are around, especially between dusk and dawn. If you are outdoors around these times of the day, it is especially important to apply repellent. In many parts of the country, including South Florida, there are mosquitoes that also bite during the day. Some of these have been found to carry West Nile virus.

In general you should re-apply repellent if you are being bitten by mosquitoes. Always follow the directions on the product you are using. Sweating, perspiration or getting wet may mean that you need to re-apply repellent more frequently. Repellents containing a higher concentration of active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection. Note that repellents do not kill mosquitoes, and are effective only at short distances from the treated surface, so you may still see mosquitoes flying nearby. Products containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and Picaridin (KBR 3023) offer longer-lasting protection than others.

If you are concerned about using repellent products on children you may wish to consult a health care provider for advice or contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) through their toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378 or Otherwise, always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent.

Wear clothing with long pants and long sleeves while outdoors. Wearing long socks and a hat is also recommended. DEET or other repellents such as permethrin can also be applied to clothing (but is not registered for use on skin), as mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric.

Finally, work to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water. Items that collect rainwater or are used to store water, such as plastic containers, 55-gallon drums, buckets, or used automobile tires, should be covered or properly discarded. Pet and animal watering containers and vases with fresh flowers should be emptied and cleaned to remove eggs at least once a week. This will eliminate the mosquito eggs and larvae and reduce the number of mosquitoes present in the area.

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