Of all the mosquito borne disease worldwide encephalitis is the one that has a strong hold in the United States. It has persistent potential to raise its ugly head at anytime during the mosquito season.
The virus is passed back and forth between mosquitoes and their smaller prey. These prey include birds, chipmunks, squirrels or any other host that when bitten by an infected mosquito can act as an amplifying host. An amplifying host is one that when infected by a mosquito provides a base in which the virus can mature and reproduce. These reservoirs can again pass the virus to a non-infected mosquito who can then pass the disease agent to another host, such as man.
The symptoms of encephalitis are described as horrible - sudden onset of fever, headaches, stiff neck, brain inflammation, convulsions, coma and even death.
The key to any insect borne disease relies first on your ability to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Here's the recipe for avoiding insect bite -
Wear clothes that cover your body - it's your armor.
Treat your clothing with a permethrin insect repellent - just follow the instruction on the can. It has a perfect safety record for 15 years and is safe. Although this product is not used on skin, it not a safety issue, or concern but rather an issue of efficacy . . . it simply does not work on skin. It needs to bond to a fiber such as clothing! Consider that permethrin is used on skin every day for control of head lice on children worldwide and that concern becomes mute. Presenting a repellent to the insects by way of your clothing is the perfect answer . . . it's ideal.
Use a skin repellent that contains deet. Keep your exposure below 35%. Consider using the new Controlled Release by Sawyer, which has the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
With the recent out break of encephalitis in New York I have heard numerous representatives discuss what level of deet should be used. It's unfortunate that so much of the news wastes our valuable time by presenting information from sources that are either unqualified or ill informed and provides information that is of poor quality and limited usefulness.
Most news experts say use low levels such as 6% . . . first, I only know of one brand that low and it's used for small children (Skeedattle). Most deet formulas run between 16% and 30%. Many vary in the way the deet is presented and formulated, and the variance in concentrations becomes an apples to oranges comparison where the actual deet concentrations become meaningless. Every deet formula sold has been tested for safety. If your child is of adolescent body weight they can use any of the adult products . . . just don't go above 33% because it has no advantages and can cause limited risk. If your child is an infant don't expose the child to insects and check with your pediatrician regarding what repellent to use. Visit the insect/tick repellent area of our site for additional information. And as for using products, just follow the manufacturer's instructions on the package. Keep in mind that very few people are experts on insects and even fewer are experts on repellents.