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DEET is the key to avoiding mosquitoes

Gone Fishin' by Bruce Ajari

With so much attention to the topic of West Nile Virus in the news lately and a recent experience with mosquitoes fresh in my mind, I thought the topic of mosquitoes was a good one.

While the peak season for mosquitoes has passed, there still are times when they can be a problem. The West Nile Virus was first identified in the United States in the New York City area in the summer of 1999 and has been spreading. The first human cases in the Philadelphia region were reported last year around Sept. 11.

Because of the timing they did not get a lot of attention.

There have been a number of deaths attributed to the virus. People get the West Nile virus from the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not transmitted from person to person. Mosquitoes have pick up the virus when they feed on infected birds. They are the primary source of the disease.

The incubation period is usually 5 to 15 days. Most people have such minor symptoms that they never know they were infected. More serious symptoms resemble the flu: fever, headache and body aches, often with skin rashes and swollen lymph glands. Severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness, coma, convulsions, paralysis and, rarely, death.

It is recommended that you avoid mosquito bites by staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and early evening. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants outdoors.

Sparingly apply insect repellent containing 35 percent DEET (diethyl toluamide) to exposed skin. Children should use insect repellant with a 10 percent DEET concentration.

Studies have shown that DEET is by far the most effective mosquito-repelling ingredient available. I can certainly attest to the effectiveness of DEET. Without mosquito repellant, I am like a mosquito magnet.

I must be filet mignon to them. They say that there is always one person in a group that for whatever reason gets bothered by mosquitoes more than the others. On my last trip down to Bishop my friends and I confirmed that I was the one. An evening outing to the Owens River below Pleasant Valley Reservoir proved to be great for fishing.

The fish were not the only things biting however.

The mosquitoes were abundant. Record heat and lots of water proved to be a pretty deadly combination. My friend told me to try some Skin So Soft lotion for the mosquitoes. Knowing that DEET is pretty toxic stuff, and against my better judgment I gave it a try.

It may work for others not on the “A” list for the mosquitoes, but for me it was a disaster. It got to a point that I could not even concentrate on the great fishing. I had so many bites that I have been itching for weeks.

While some say that concentrations of DEET over 35 percent do not work any better, I have found that the only thing that would work for me in the backcountry was something with extraordinarily high levels of DEET. I once used a production containing a 95 percent concentration for my backpacking trips. This would work when other over the counter repellants only gave minimal protection. I will not use anything higher than 35 percent today, just because I feel that there are some risks with this chemical.

If mosquitoes bother you, there is nothing that protects you like DEET.

Just use it very sparingly and wash it off as soon as you can.

Action Alert

The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Recovery Meeting scheduled for this Saturday, Aug. 24 in Truckee has been rescheduled to Thursday, Sept. 19 from 6- 9 p.m. at the Truckee Donner PUD building on Donner Pass Road.

Please note this change and attend it if you are able.


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