Should I be worried about West Nile?

What attracts mosquitoes, how to keep them at bay — and just how serious is the West Nile virus?

Photo, Pixabay.

Photo, Pixabay.

Should I be worried about West Nile?

Mississauga-based pharmacist Tommy Lam says: West Nile is on the rise. Spread by mosquitoes, it usually produces no symptoms, although 20 percent of people may have serious flu-like symptoms and about 1 percent may develop inflammation of the brain.

The best strategy is to protect yourself from bites by avoiding marshy areas with standing water where mosquitoes breed, wearing long-sleeved clothing and applying bug sprays that contain DEET, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Note: If you’re enjoying a beer on your back deck, you’ll be more attractive to mosquitoes because alcohol makes blood rise to the surface of your skin.

Getting bitten may be genetic

Studies show that you may attract more mosquitoes if you’re pregnant or drinking beer, but a study published in April 2015 in the Public Library of Science journal Plos One found that your odour and attractiveness to mosquitoes may also have been passed down by your parents.

Is DEET safe for kids?

DEET can be used safely on kids – just look for less than 10 percent DEET on product labels. And spraying the repellent on clothing instead of directly on the skin will help reduce the otherwise strong scent.

This article was originally published in Canadian Health & Lifestyle.

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