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It’s now raining season, the period when mosquitoes are all around us in their vast numbers, this means we share our space with them, scientists have proven to us that one out of every five people looks delicious and appetizing to mosquitoes…. Do you think you are one of them????
There are about 3000 species available in the world and they all vary and differ in their ability to pass diseases, the way they bite and their ruggedness.
Avoiding mosquito’s bites will reduce your chances and probability of getting infected with diseases like malaria, yellow fever, Nile virus, etc. avoiding mosquito bite also protects you from the severe itching associated with it. Statistics have shown us that the fatality rate from mosquitoes borne sicknesses is between one million to two million people per year and Malaria was discovered to be the most common cause of this really high fatality rate. ( read on the effect of genotype on malaria here).
Majority of the insecticides we find in the market make use of a chemical called DEET as one of its active ingredients, this chemical DEET should be used with care because many research has discovered this chemical to be dangerous and harmful to health
Fortunately for us, there are lots of other methods we can use to prevent ourselves from a mosquito bite, these methods do not involve the use of toxic substances on our skin.
Some chemical compounds attract mosquitoes to us from far away, mosquitoes can detect these chemical compounds from as far as 45 meters away. The male mosquitoes are not interested in your blood unlike the females who are born vampires, they need the iron and protein in your for them to be able to form eggs.
From research, we have deduced that mosquitoes are attracted by the following reasons
Heat and movement: Mosquitoes are really attracted to both heat and movement, so if you are doing an exercise or a vigorous activity or your body temperature is high, you are a perfect target for mosquitoes
Bacteria: we have more than 1 trillion microbes that survive on our skin and produce our body odor. Human beings have just about 10 per cent of these microbes in common; the remaining varies from one person to another, some people have a combination of microbes that is just too inviting for mosquitoes
Chemical compounds: whenever mosquitoes are hovering around us, they are sniffing on us to know which chemicals we have in abundance. About 277 chemicals have been confirmed to be attractive to mosquitoes from human odours. Lactic acid, octenol (found in peoples sweat and breath), ammonia, carboxylic acid and carbon dioxide are chemicals that are very inviting to mosquitoes.
The more these chemicals you emit the more they get invited to you, fat and larger individuals are known to emit more carbon dioxide than small stature individuals. This is particularly responsible for why adults get more bitten than kids
Odors do not only attract mosquitoes, it can also stop them from finding a host, some odors have the ability to make mosquitoes unable to locate you, some of these compounds are also secreted by our body, 1-methyl piperazine is one of the compounds that perform this function, it blocks the sense of smell of a mosquitoes so efficiently that they would not be able to locate a human close by. It has been discovered that some people naturally secrete more of this compounds than other people. But till now research has not been able to deduce a way to stop the substance from being evaporated away from our skin. Also, some people seem to produce more of this kind of chemicals than others, which is why some people may seem to have more mosquito bite than others.
Presently, NN-diethyl-meta-toluamide also known as DEET is included in a lot of products. The concentration of it varies from product to product and is as much as 100 per cent in some products. If a substance or chemical has the ability to melt plastics and nylon, it would not be wise to rub such a chemical on your skin, DEET has the capability to do exactly just that. Children are more at risk with this chemical due because their skin easily absorbs substances from the environment, chemicals also affect their developing nervous system. (Read an interesting article on how a child’s blood type is formed from the parent’s blood here)After 30 years of research and clinical studies, DEET has been confirmed to cause the following bad health effects during exposure
- Memory loss
- Muscle weakness, muscle, and joint pain
- Impaired brain cell function, neurotoxicity
- Skin irritation, hives, blistering
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, irritation, and watering eye
Simple measures that can prevent you from a mosquito bite
Obviously, the most effective way to avoid being bitten by a mosquito is to avoid coming near them totally, you can avoid mosquito bite by staying indoors from when its dark till daybreak, which is the time range when they operate. Mosquitoes are also found in thick bushes and areas where you have stagnant water. You can use “the three Ds” below to help remember how to stop mosquito from breeding in your house
Drain: mosquitoes need water to grow, so make sure not to allow any water to remain stagnant on your property, without stagnant water, mosquitoes cannot breed.
Dress: put on dresses that are light in colour and loose on your body
Defend: use repellants, try to avoid chemical repellants due to issues already discussed above, try to use natural repellants instead
Natural ways to repel mosquitoes
Cinnamon leaf oil (a research found it was very efficient at killing mosquitoes than DEET)
Clear vanilla oil mixed with olive oil
Wash with citronella soap, we have some 100 per cent pure citronella essential oil that you can put on your skin.
Catnip oil (according to a research, this oil is 10 times more powerful than DEET)
Use a natural concoction that contains a combination of citronella, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, and vanillin to resist mosquitoes
Also, extra thiamine makes you smell irritating to mosquitoes; the hypothesis is that ingesting more vitamin B1 (thiamine) than what is needed by your body makes you excrete the excess through your urine, sweat, and skin. Vitamin B1 creates a skin odour that makes you smell repulsive to female mosquitoes
With a little planning and strategy, you should be able to sit outside your house without getting bites from mosquitoes. Don’t forget the Three Ds of protection from mosquitoes which are; drain, dress, and defend. Removing the breeding house for mosquitoes is the first thing to do. Ensure that there is no stagnant water around you.
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