Protect Yourself

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Mosquito repellent has become a hot item after cases of West Nile virus have surfaced in several states.

Racine's SC Johnson and Son says sales in the personal insect repellent category for the past four weeks are up about a third compared with the same period last year.

The privately held company declined to release sales figures but says it keeps getting orders at a time when demand usually tapers off.

Spokeswoman Cynthia Georgeson attributes the sales increase to the late summer heat and rain, which creates favorable mosquito breeding conditions.

She says the industry was helped by a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine that found insect repellents with DEET give the best protection against mosquito bites.

The virus has been found in at least 40 states and is blamed for 14 deaths in the country this year. Extended Web Coverage

Mosquito Bite Prevention

  • Eliminate pools of stagnant water. This includes: emptying water from outdoor containers, old tires, tarps and unused swimming pools; cleaning gutters and clearing debris from roadside ditches; putting drain holes in trash barrels and turning outdoor buckets upside down to prevent water from accumulating. Water in pet bowls and livestock tanks should be refreshed at least once every three days.

  • Use natural predators to limit mosquito populations. Minnows or goldfish can be placed in backyard ponds to prey on mosquitoes. Dragonfly larvae and aquatic beetles are predators of mosquito larvae.

  • Install yellow light bulbs in outdoor lamps. These bulbs will not attract mosquitoes when turned on, unlike white bulbs, which can.

  • Repair and maintain window screens, and keep them closed. Well-maintained window screens serve as effective barriers against mosquitoes and other insects trying to enter your home.

  • Avoid outdoor activity between sunset and dawn. This is when mosquitoes most likely to carry disease are active.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors. Spray clothing with repellents because mosquitoes may bite through thing clothing.

  • Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 35 percent DEET. Wear according to label directions.

  • Do not wear scented antiperspirants, perfumes and colognes if spending time outdoors. The smell of these products attracts mosquitoes and other insects to the people wearing them.
  • Routinely mow lawns and cut brush. Shady areas and tall grass are habitats for mosquitoes.

Source: Centers for Disease Control