Thursday, July 06, 2006

Buzz off!

…Bugs are, er, repellent.

…The little brats make you itch or infect you with dreaded crap like West Nile Fever, Lyme’s Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and St. Louis Encephalitis.

…Each year, more than 20,000 people in the United States come down with a bug-related disease. With Lyme’s, people trail an IV pole behind them for months.

…Some communities try to get bugs before they can get us. These folks through the streets or with planes spraying everything in sight and bathing people in insecticide.

…HA prefers to bathe herself—or not—her choice.

….One insecticide is called permethrin (Permanone). This is so mighty, the Centers for Disease Control recommends putting it on clothing, not skin.

…The most popular skin potion, DEET, also should be used with caution. An experiment at Duke showed that when applied to rats, it sort of fried their little rat brains. There is even a suspicion that Gulf War syndrome might be due, in part, to DEET.

…If you must use it (and it’s the gold standard), use concentrations of 30% or less for adults, 10% or less for kids. Labels, people, labels!

…Never use DEET on kids under age 2.

…Apply it by hand, don’t hose it all over the person, especially a tot. Wash hands afterward.

…Don’t apply to eyes, lips or wounds.

…If you are taking a heavy-duty med, check with the doctor first. Some don’t get along with DEET.

…There is a new kid on the block, though. Picaridin, which works as well as DEET and is also endorsed by the CDC. It’s called Cutter Advanced Sport, and it won’t melt plastic, such as watch faces and camera buttons. It only lasts 4 hours, though, so if you’re going to be out for a spell, DEET is probably best.

…Other tips: Stay away from areas known to be full of ticks or skeeters (dusk to dawn is their favorite time to chew on you).

…Avoid strong cologne.

…Wear a hat and light-colored clothes. No red, they like red.

…Tuck pants into boots, wear long sleeves.

…Check for ticks when you come out of the woods.

…And if you’re trying to sit outside and can’t stomach a bucket of burning citronella, try a fan. Mosquitoes are weak sisters when it comes to flying. A stiff breeze will waft them away from you.

…Incidentally, recent studies show that it’s not your imagination—skeeters may like you better than your spouse. Your “hidden attractants” are genetic. Bugs just naturally love you because you are exhaling a lot of carbon dioxide and for some reason, excrete cholesterol onto your skin.

...No, it doesn't mean your cholesterol is too high. It just means you're tasty. Bug-wise.

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