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below for a selection of Mr. Evans' previous articles.
Complications of Diabetes
of Falls Again
Drug Coverage Made Simple
to Relieve Lower Back Pain
Healthy Smile is More than Just Cosmetic
to Prevent Falling
of Older Adults
COURSE EXERCISE...Outdoor Exercise For Everyone
© Copyright 2005,
American Senior Fitness
Preventing the West Nile
There has been so
much talk lately about the West Nile virus, and it seems to be
spreading, particularly in my state of California where the weather is
warm much of the year. I’m 62 and really sensitive to insect bites, so
are there any precautions I can take to reduce my risk of contracting
WORRIED IN WEST
age 50 should be especially concerned about West Nile virus because
they are among the most potentially at-risk population and are more
likely to develop serious symptoms if they become infected.
Obviously the healthier and more physically fit you are, the better
able you are to combat West Nile or any other virus -- that’s a
“no-brainer.” But what can you do to prevent it in the first place?
The West Nile virus is a bird virus that is transmitted by the bite
of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. Not everyone who
becomes infected with West Nile virus will develop serious illness
(in fact, four out of five people who are infected will not show any
symptoms at all), but symptoms can include high fever, headache,
neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma,
tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and
paralysis. In other words, you don’t want to get it! Symptoms
sometimes can last several weeks, and neurological effects may be
permanent. Even otherwise healthy people can be sick for weeks with
the West Nile virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), California has
the dubious distinction of being the “leader” among West Nile cases
affecting humans. Louisiana holds second place. In addition to
people and birds, horses also contract the disease. During a recent
period, all but 9 states reported cases of West Nile virus in one
form or another.
What to do? The CDC advises that West Nile virus activity peaks in
August and September so make sure you're protected whenever you go
outdoors and remember to:
Use mosquito repellent. (Choose an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon
Make yourself less vulnerable by not going outdoors during
“peak” hours if at all possible. The hours from dusk to dawn are
peak biting times for many species of mosquitoes.
Wear long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outdoors if
mosquito breeding sites. Check for standing water around your house or apartment (such as bird baths, flower pots,
drainage ditches, etc.).
Install or repair screens. Even the smallest tear can create an
opportunity for the tiny mosquito.
Support community-based mosquito control programs.
If you are sensitive to commercial insect repellents or hesitant to
use them on your skin, my personal recommendation is to try Neem
oil. Haven’t heard of it? I’m not surprised. Neem oil is extracted from the seed of the Neem tree, an ancient tree indigenous to India,
and has been used for thousands of years as an insect repellent. It
is entirely natural and amazingly effective in repelling insects for
both humans and animals (yes, you can even bathe Fido in it). I
often work outside on my small acreage in California where I am
regularly exposed to mosquitoes, gnats, and other biting insects.
Recently I applied some Neem lotion before cutting brush on the
“back forty.” It was a hot day, and within minutes I noticed a
cloud of gnats heading toward me. “Uh, oh,” I thought. But to my
surprise, the gnats turned around immediately upon sensing the Neem
and headed in the opposite direction. I continued working for
several hours without a single bite. This made me a believer.
In fact, concentrated Neem extract mixed with a gallon of water and
a little bit of dishwashing detergent and then sprayed on your
plants will even keep insect pests from dining on your favorite
flowers. Apparently they don’t like the taste. While it does not
immediately kill them like many pesticides (which can be harmful to
you, too), it disrupts their reproductive cycle to
reduce the long-term insect population. Surprisingly, it has no
adverse effect on beneficial insects such as earthworms, honey bees,
lady bugs, etc. -- only on the “bad” insects.
Neem America is, perhaps, the foremost source of quality Neem
products in the U.S. Their website (http://www.neemamerica.org/)
includes information about the benefits of Neem oil with supportive
documentation from decades of research and clinical trials. The
Parks and Recreation Department of the City of San Diego is now
using Neem oil from Neem America as part of its insect control
strategy. For further information about using Neem oil as an
effective insect repellent, call 858-231-3142. Or contact Carl Ling
of California Soil Solutions at 800-507- 2526 for advice on how to
use it on your plants. This “time-tested” natural insect deterrent
might afford you the extra protection you need against West Nile
Evans is a 38-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and a
nationally recognized consultant on fitness for seniors. He is host of the
popular radio talk show “Forever Young” on San Diego’s KCBQ 1170 AM
(KCBQ.com) and chairman of the advisory council for the Retired &
Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of San Diego.
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