Saturday, May 14, 2005

What's Your Mosquito Defense?

What's Your Mosquito Defense?

Interesting statistic - there have been 777 cases of West Nile Virus reported in California (23 deaths) and yet, if the CNN news report I recently read is true, only 23 percent of Californians wear insect repellent. Nationwide, only about 40 percent wear insect repellent.

Although the risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, people of all ages can become ill... and the carrier? A tiny mosquito.

What brought my attention to the information in the first place was my 4-year-old son. He often plays out in our yard and just the other day came into the house all excited by the dead bird he had found in the flower garden.

"Mom! Dad! Look!" He was quite excited by his find. The bird --- a native morning dove --- appeared to be in perfect condition ...other than the fact that it was stone cold dead. No broken neck, so we're assuming it didn't fly into anything. No outward signs of wounds or abrasions. No unusual marks on it. In fact, it almost appeared to be asleep.

Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area. Over 130 species of birds are known to have been infected with West Nile virus, though not all infected birds will die.

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) seeks everyone's help for their communities by reporting dead birds as one measure to monitor and track the spread of West Nile Virus.

"By reporting dead birds to state and local health departments, you can play an important role in monitoring West Nile virus. State and local agencies have different policies for collecting and testing birds, so check the Links to State and Local Government Sites page to find information about reporting dead birds in your area. Click here for more info about reporting dead birds and dealing with bird carcasses. "

There are other things we can do to mosquito proof our homes and protect ourselves, such as installing or repairing screens on our homes and limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items that hold water.

And then there are mosquito repellents ...and this is where my opinion shifts...

You see, here in the USA they recommend DEET for mosquito repellent. At the end of April/2005 the CDC came out with two more recommendations, repellents containing the chemical picaridin or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Now, in Canada when I was a Purchasing Agent for the Ministry, DEET was a banned substance. I wasn't allowed to have any products containing it for use by our people in the field. In fact, even the CDC states to spray DEET on your clothing ...NOT on your skin.

Keeping in mind that your skin is the largest organ on your body, and can absorb almost anything it comes into contact with into your bloodstream in 20 seconds or less just seems to me that we wouldn't want DEET anywhere near our skin, period.

Here's one natural alternative you might want to consider for repelling those nasty mosquitoes this year. It's non-toxic, chemical-free, and part of our home care products - Purifying Mist.

But that's a room deodorizer, you say?

Yes, it's actually quite effective as a room deodorizer and an odor neutralizer. In fact, I like having a bottle handy in the car and have a few handy in the home. (Spray it on your hands after chopping onions and you'll be surprised how effective it can be!)

And yet it has one ingredient that can be very powerful for repelling pesky instects like the mosquito - grapefruit seed extract.

Take a bottle of Purifying Mist with you on your next camping trip and test it for yourself.

Meanwhile ...stay healthy and stay well.