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Aggressive Action Urged on West Nile

Thursday, 13 September 2012 01:26 PM

With federal authorities reporting West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week alone, a panel of leading health experts is sounding an alarm on the deadly mosquito-borne infection and strongly urging all Americans to take precautions against it.
In a commentary published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the experts warn that healthcare professionals and the public need to be on high alert for West Nile saying: "A mosquito-prevention message must be unrelenting, directed at personal protective behaviors [avoidance, repellents, and clothing] and reduction of breeding sites. The public must be constantly prodded, with a balance of sensible precautions and serious awareness of the possibility for severe disease."
The commentary noted the virus has become endemic in North America, with the number cases in 2012 exceeding that of any other year. The dramatic increase in cases could be due to "the interplay of heat, drought, human habitats, increased mosquito populations and enhanced viral development that all act in concert to increase the force of transmission," the experts said.
They said it’s also possible a new strain of West Nile may have emerged. While nearly 80 percent of those infected have no symptoms, some can experience life-threatening encephalitis and meningoencephalitis.
So far this year, 1,590 cases and 66 deaths have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas has been the hardest hit, accounting for half of the cases reported to the CDC.
Consumer Reports recently issued a new report on the best insect repellents to keep the biting bugs at bay, as well as other strategies to fight WNV-carrying mosquitoes.
Four of Consumer Reports’ six top choices contain deet – Off Deep Woods Sportsmen, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off FamilyCare Smooth & Dry, and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent 8. The active ingredient in Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus is oil of lemon eucalyptus (not recommended for children under 3). Almost as effective was Natrapel 8-Hour, which contains picaridin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed deet safe when used as directed, but it is not recommended for infants younger than 2 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against using repellents with deet concentrations higher than 30 percent on any children. CDC experts have also warned against products that mix sunscreen with deet insect repellent.
Other tips for protecting yourself:
• When applying repellent, follow directions. Use your hands to apply it to your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth, and don't apply it to cuts. Use just enough to cover exposed skin.
• Wear light-colored, loose clothes and avoid using scented products when outdoors, especially at peak feeding hours – dusk to dawn for most mosquitoes.
• Remove standing water near your house that can become a mosquito breeding ground.
• To avoid ticks, tuck pants into socks and wear closed shoes and a hat.
• Inspect yourself for ticks after venturing into wooded or grassy areas.

© HealthDay

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Experts are sounding an alarm on the deadly mosquito-borne virus and urging all Americans to take precautions against it.
Thursday, 13 September 2012 01:26 PM
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