AlzU Blog

The Safe Use of Insect Repellent for Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease Part I

Summer safety for those with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) includes considering a safe and effective insect repellent.  Some products contain so many chemicals, consumers are asking which is more dangerous, the bug bites or the commercial bug sprays?  Let’s examine both ends of the spectrum.

when it comes to bug bites, there are several serious diseases spread by ticks and mosquitos, but what you may not realize, is that some of these bug borne illnesses could actually be fatal. Bugs can carry diseases such as; West Nile virus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Eastern equine encephalitis.  Some of these vector (insect) borne diseases cause mild such as flu like symptoms, but others, such as West Nile virus, can cause serious neurological infections, permanent muscle weakness, or even death.  West Nile is the most common mosquito borne illness in the U.S.

Vector borne illnesses are without a doubt increasing in the U.S., as overall temperatures rise-expanding the habitats for insects that spread disease.  The CDC reports as of January 2016 there have been 2,060 cases of West Nile virus from 48 states in the U.S. (and the District of Columbia).  Of these 2,060 cases, 1,360 were identified to cause meningitis or encephalitis.  Compare these number to the 2010 report from the CDC revealing that West Nile was discovered in only 40 states (and the District of Columbia) with 1,021 total cases with 62% leading to severe neurological infections.

Tips for Avoiding Bug Bites

    Avoid as much skin exposure as possible when outside; wear long sleeves, a hat, socks and pants. Consider mosquito netting over the face if you live near water or are exposed to a large number of bugs
    • Be aware that when it’s windy, bugs are less likely to land-use a fan or plan to be outside more on windy days
    • Keep standing water away from your home and use the proper chemicals in backyard pools and spas
    • Stay indoors at dusk and dawn-these are peak hours for bugs
    • When using bug repellent always read and follow the product instructions
    • Never apply repellent underneath clothing-only to exposed skin
    • Water will wash away repellent rendering it ineffective, re-apply after swimming or sweating
    • When you apply spray type repellent, always apply when you are outdoors to reduce inhalation
    • Never spray repellent directly on the face, put it on your hands then rub on the face
    • Don’t over-do it when you spray insect repellent, a light spray works best

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