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Insect vs. Health News ~ [Issue 0805-3]  Wellness Weekly
 Aug 17, 2005 10:39 PDT 


British researchers believe they have determined why some people get
bitten by mosquitoes more than others. The findings, published in
"Business," the quarterly magazine of the Biotechnology and
Biological Sciences Research Council, could lead to new types of
insect repellent. James Logan, a research student at the
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council-sponsored
institute Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, England, says some
people give off "masking" odors - or chemical signals - that prevent
mosquitoes from finding them. Logan, along with Jenny Mordue at the
University of Aberdeen, Scotland, say the findings suggest this is
from compounds that switch off attraction either by acting as
repellents or by masking the attractant components of human odor.


Children who have had a systemic, serious allergic reaction to an
insect sting should get venom immunotherapy or allergy shots. Dr.
Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of the allergy division at the University of
Texas Southwestern writes in an editorial in "New England Journal of
Medicine" that systemic allergic reactions go beyond swelling and
pain and could include low blood pressure, tightness in the chest,
and swelling in the throat. "Claritin is not going to be able to fix
this," she says. "Severe reactions to stings and the stuffiness
caused by ragweed are mediated by the same allergy antibody,
immunoglobulin E, but the clinical manifestations are very different.
For those with a severe allergy, (a sting) could be deadly."


Rutgers-Newark, New Jersey, biology Professor Ann Cali points out it
is important to "brush, than squash" mosquito bites. A group of
opportunistic single-celled micro-organisms that can invade and
devour virtually any kind of human cell may have entered and broken
down the muscle tissue of a Pennsylvania woman when she crushed a
mosquito where it had been drawing blood. The woman later died as a
type of microsporidia called B. algerae systematically consumed
muscle fibers in her body, leaving the muscles unable to contract and
respond. Cali's study, published in the "New England Journal of
Medicine," recommends the brush-then-squash technique, coating
exposed skin areas with the product Skin So Soft and staying indoors
at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.


A survey shows about half of Americans take precautions against the
West Nile virus, such as using mosquito repellent or removing
standing water from yards. Preventive steps are more likely to be
taken by women than by men and by parents than by people without
children, says the survey sponsored by Responsible Industry for a
Sound Environment, a non-profit trade association representing
pest-control manufacturers and suppliers, which has been tracking the
mosquito-borne, potentially deadly virus since its arrival in the
United States in 1999. Overall, 63 percent made sure their family
used insect repellent before going outdoors, and 42 percent remained
indoors during peak mosquito hours at dawn and dusk, and wore long
sleeves and light-colored clothing to help prevent mosquito bites.


With the insect and tourism season in full swing, dermatologists
recommend prevention as the best medicine against insect-borne
diseases. Doctors advise people to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
when outside, stay inside at dawn and dusk, when many bugs -
including mosquitoes - are most active, remove standing water in
yards and clean out gutters, and install or repair window and door
screens. Also, insect repellants should be used before going outside.
Natural repellants as opposed to those containing harmful chemicals
are preferred. Those containing permethrin should be applied only to
clothing and they will last through several wash cycles. Those
containing DEET can be applied to the skin, but only last for a short
time and can cause side effects such as skin irritation and
headaches. For children, insect repellents with a 10 percent or lower
DEET concentration are recommended. However, the chemical repellent
never should be used on a baby younger than 2 months old. If you
would rather use an all-natural alternative to DEET and permethrin
products then you should check out the following:
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