Posts Tagged ‘West Nile virus’

Time for sunshine and flowers… and bugs

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

flowersPesticides are chemicals used to kill or keep away insects and rodents. You can use some pesticides in your home. Others are for use only outside or on crops. With the warmer weather finally upon us, we get to enjoy flowers blooming, grass growing, and all those pests that also enjoy the springtime weather. So is it a good idea to use pesticides to get rid of these critters?

In her book, Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby, Dr. Siobhan Dolan states that “We don’t know for sure what effect pesticides have on an unborn baby. In some studies, high-level exposure appears to increase risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight, birth defects, and learning problems. Although pesticide use is regulated by the federal government, there is a lack of agreement over pesticides’ safety.”

If you are pregnant, it makes sense to avoid pesticides whenever possible.

If you need pest or rodent control in your home:
• Try to use traps, like mousetraps,  instead of pesticides. Be careful not to set traps in places where children can get to them. Stay away from rodents and have someone else empty the trap.
• Have someone else put the pesticide in your home. Ask them to follow the directions on the product label.
• Put food, dishes and utensils away before using the pesticide.
• If you need to use it, have someone open the windows to air out your home and wash off all surfaces where food is made after using the pesticide

If you use pesticides outside your home:
• Close all the windows and turn off the air conditioning. This helps keep pesticides in the air from coming into the home.
• Wear rubber gloves when gardening to avoid touching pesticides.
• And as tempting as it might be, try to avoid walking barefoot in the grass.

In certain areas, you may need to consider using an insect repellant. Insect repellants are products you put on your skin or clothes to help keep insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, away. This helps prevent insect bites.

Many insect repellants contain DEET (diethyltoluamide).  According to Dr. Dolan, “Recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control don’t tell pregnant women to avoid DEET. But it’s reasonable to stay away from it if you possibly can, unless you’re in a situation in which using it makes more sense than not using it. For example, if you’re camping in an area that’s crawling with ticks or buzzing with mosquitoes, applying insect repellent makes a lot of sense. In that situation, the risk of getting Lyme disease or West Nile virus, which can be harmful to you and your baby, outweighs any theoretical risk that might be posed by the insect repellent.”

You also can prevent bites by staying indoors in the early morning or late afternoon when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. Wearing long pants and long sleeves when going outdoors helps, too.

West Nile virus on the rise

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

mosquitoWest Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. It is a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. Right now it’s raging and health officials at the CDC last week said that there have been 1,118 cases of the disease reported across 38 states, including 41 deaths.

Texas accounts for about half of the cases in the entire country. Researchers believe that this summer’s extremely hot weather following a particularly mild winter is what has led to the largest outbreak ever seen. While Texas is the most heavily affected state, WNV is in every state this year except Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont.
 
The virus is transmitted by mosquitos and is carried by birds. The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to stop mosquito bites. Many municipalities are spraying pesticides in the air. It is recommended that individuals who will be outside where mosquitos may exist should use a bug repellent containing DEET. Stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite, and wear long clothes. Use mosquito netting over baby carriers and strollers and be sure to repair any broken window or door screens.

Pregnant women may be concerned about the safety of insect repellants during pregnancy. The insect repellant DEET (diethyltoluamide) is among the most effective at keeping insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, from biting. Preventing insect bites is important during pregnancy because mosquito- and tick-borne infections, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, erlichiosis and babesiosis may be harmful in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend any special precautions for pregnant women using DEET-containing products, when used as directed on the product label.

For more information about West Nile virus, read this information from the CDC.