Health Expert offers Prevention Techniques for West Nile, Lyme Disease

Tips for nearly 100 percent protection

BLOOMINGTON, Minn., June 16 /PRNewswire/ — With the arrival of the mosquito and tick season, an expert in international travel medicine is offering recommendations on how to prevent insect-born diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

“Many people apply insect repellent to their skin, but if you’re going to be camping or spending a lot of time outdoors, you should also treat clothing, tents and other outdoor fabrics with a product called Permethrin,” said William Stauffer, M.D., an expert on international travel health at Regions Hospital’s Center for International Health. Dr. Stauffer says this dual approach, which is very effective against malaria in tropical areas, is also very effective in Minnesota where the mosquitoes are more prevalent in summer than in the tropics.

Skin protection

“DEET, which has been used worldwide for 40 years, is the safest, most thoroughly studied and effective chemical repellent currently available,” said Dr. Stauffer. For adults and children, he recommends a time release controlled DEET product (i.e. Ultrathon, Sawyer), which may last up to 12 hours despite being less than 30 percent DEET. When using a regular product with DEET, the time of protection is dependent on concentration. For adults and children, a product containing 25-50 percent DEET offers at least four hours protection. “When used properly, DEET is very safe for kids, especially if you factor in the risks of contracting Lyme disease, West Nile encephalitis, and other insect borne illnesses,” he noted.

Clothing protection

In addition to DEET, Stauffer recommends using the insect repellant Permethrin on clothing. It was developed for the U.S. military and remains effective for at least two weeks and up to six months depending on the amount applied, even after repeated launderings. In a field study by the U.S. military in Alaska, subjects who wore Permethrin treated uniforms and 35 percent DEET on exposed skin had 99.9 percent protection with one insect bite per hour over an eight hour period compared to 1,188 insect bites per hour in a control group that had no protection.

Disease symptoms

West Nile virus causes fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or rash in about 20 percent of those infected. There were 34 reported cases of human West Nile virus in Minnesota last year, which resulted in two deaths. Lyme disease is transmitted by Deer ticks and can cause debilitating arthritis as well as serious heart and nervous system problems. One early symptom of Lyme disease is a “bulls-eye” rash, consisting of a reddened area, sometimes with a clear area in the middle. Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, and pain in the muscles or joints. There were 1,023 reported cases of Lyme disease in the state in 2004, the highest on record.

About Regions Hospital

Regions Hospital is a leading, full service, private hospital providing outstanding medical care with special programs in heart, women’s care, surgery, seniors’ services, digestive care, cancer, behavioral health, burn, emergency and trauma. Established in 1872, the hospital has served the Twin Cities and surrounding region for more than 130 years. Patients receive state- of-the-art care in an environment that promotes comfort and healing. The health professionals at Regions Hospital are involved in teaching and research focused on improving health and medical care. Regions Hospital is part of the HealthPartners family of care. Please visit the Regions Hospital web site at http://www.regionshospital.com/ .

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