Health Watch -- Warm Weather Worries (Part 3)

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Springtime is a time for new life - and not all of it is pleasant.

Spring is known as a time of new life - flowers budding, plants peeking above the soil, baby ducklings following their mothers. But there's a less pleasant form of new life that becomes a worry when the weather warms up: mosquito larvae.

Not only are mosquitoes annoying and sometimes painful with their itchy bites, but they can also spread diseases. West Nile virus has been a serious concern in the past few years. This virus is carried by birds and spread to humans by mosquitoes. Most people have mild or no symptoms, but some people may experience fever, chills, joint pain or nausea. More than 200 deaths have been reported in the United States since 1999, and older adults seem to be most at risk.

Dr. James Luby, an infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, offers these tips to help protect you and your family from West Nile virus:
*Empty containers of standing water around your home. That limits the places where mosquitoes can breed.
*Use insect repellent containing DEET
*Wear long pants and long sleeves when you're outside during peak mosquito-biting times
*Treat clothing with insect repellant because mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing
*Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and early evening - these are prime mosquito times.


March 2004