Protecting from bug bites and mosquito transmitted diseases - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Protecting from bug bites and mosquito transmitted diseases

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

During summer Alanna Adkins and Alexa Michalec spend a lot of time outside. They say bug spray is a must.

"So you don't get bug bites," said Michalec, who lives in Cedar Rapids. 

"They itch," said Adkins, who also lives in Cedar Rapids.

Mosquito bites can also cause diseases, like West Nile Virus. Health officials say using a spray with DEET or lemon oil with eucalyptus protects best against mosquitoes.

"Insect repellent is very effective," said Jim Hodina, Linn County Public Health Department. "Repellent with DEET, the percentage, the higher the percentage the more effective is usually is."

One man in Linn County has contracted West Nile already. It was the first human case in Iowa this year. Symptoms are flu-like, and so is the treatment. If you contract the disease you need to get lots of rest and fluids.

If untreated, West Nile can cause severe problems.

"It could advance more into a meningitis or encephalitis and it can effect your nervous system," said Barbara Chadwick, Linn County Public Health Department. "That's when it becomes really serious business."

Less than one percent of humans who contract West Nile will have severe reactions.

Officials say you should avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when possible. That's when mosquitoes are most active. When you are outside, wear long sleeves and pants when you can, and of course, bring the bug spray.

You should also get rid of standing water around your home. That's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Clear water from buckets, bird baths, pool covers and anywhere else water can collect.

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