West Nile protection: Forget DEET
“West Nile strikes again! Is your family safe? Better slather them in DEET!”
The folks at the CDC sure do have people worked into a frenzy over the supposed massive resurgence of the West Nile virus.
ABC and Yahoo reported at the end of August that 1,590 people had been infected (a 40 percent increase in cases in one week and the highest case count since 1999) and 66 had been killed by West Nile. The CDC was reporting that they expected the numbers to go up through October. Cases have been reported all over the country, but 70 percent have been in Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan. They’re saying it will be the worst year yet for West Nile virus.
Every major news source carries headlines about the “death toll” of the virus, their predictions that it’s only going to get worse, and…of course…how to protect yourself.
It’s just too bad that the protection boils down to covering yourself and your children in a neurotoxic chemical. In fact, the top choice from the geniuses over at Consumer Reports is 30 percent DEET. They do say to use caution when applying it to children, but they what they don’t say is what that “caution” entails. Thanks for the blanket safety statement, Consumer Reports.
For a long time, any concerns about DEET were dismissed by mainstreamers. However, several years ago, mainstream scientists started confirming what the more naturally inclined have known for a long time: That DEET isn’t exactly a safe choice. (See the P.S. below for more important information about the study.)
Luckily, there are DEET alternatives. The mainstream just doesn’t seem too eager to tell you about them.
But that’s what I’m here for.
First off, there are a few simple precautions like wearing long-sleeved clothing in the dawn and dusk hours, keeping window screens intact, and emptying standing water. Then there are the DEET alternatives.
There are several good ones on the market. I use one made by Badger that comes in balm and spray options. It contains essential oils of citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint.
You can also make your own insect repellant. There are a number of oils that will smell delightful to you, but will send many insects heading for the hills. Lavender oil, citronella, cedar oil, rose geranium oil, American pennyroyal oil (also called tickweed), eucalyptus oil, and tea tree oil are all on that list. To make your own natural insect repellant choose the essential oils of any combination of these and mix 10-20 drops total with a carrier oil, such as jojoba or safflower. Keep your mix in a small mister bottle so you can reapply it regularly.
Taking garlic pills (two 600 mg tablets each morning) and thiamine (vitamin B1) are two approaches that have also shown promise in keeping mosquitoes away.
Dr. Wright has also offered advice for what to do if you do end up infected with West Nile virus. It’s the same regimen he suggests for many viral infections and includes intravenous vitamin C, intravenous ozone therapy, and other natural approaches.
A final note: It’s important to keep in mind that the CDC is really putting the “scare” in “scare report” for this one. In reality, 80 percent of people infected with West Nile never develop symptoms, 20 percent get flu-like symptoms that only last about a week, and just about 1 in 150 end up with fatal symptoms. Most of those people already have weak immune systems.
Still, if you don’t want to take your chances, stock up on those natural DEET alternatives.
P.S. Keep reading for the serious risks your family could face by using DEET.
“West Nile Cases Jump 40% in a Week; 66 Deaths Reported, CDC Says,” Medline Plus (nlm.nih.gov)
“Top 3 Insect Repellents For Avoiding West Nile,” The Consumerist (consumerist.com)
“West Nile cases rising; 66 dead,” CNN (cnn.com)
“West Nile Virus Cases Hit 1,590; Death Toll at 66,” Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com)