If you’re concerned about the West Nile Virus, you’re not alone. This disease, which is typically transmitted from mosquitoes to humans after the insects feast on infected birds, is cropping up all over the country with more cases reported this year than in several years prior. Here are a few tips for warding off bites in the first place, as well as some recommendations for bolstering your immune system in the event that you do contract the West Nile Virus.
Prevent Mosquito Bites in the First Place
As is often the case, prevention is the best medicine. Making your yard, home, and person as unappealing to mosquitoes as possible is a good place to start. Get rid of all standing water on and around your property. Bird baths, baby pools, and clogged rain gutters are breeding pools for mosquitoes and should be drained every couple of days. Repair broken screens and keep doors shut to keep mosquitos outdoors instead of buzzing around your house. Know that the majority of mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. And if you must be outdoors during these prime hours, protect yourself.
The CDC recommends long-sleeved shirts and long pants in addition to slathering yourself in chemically laden insect repellents. I agree with keeping your skin covered with protective clothing, however, I prefer some of these natural solutions for keeping mosquitoes and other bugs at bay.
- Essential oils such as citronella, lemongrass, cedar, and eucalyptus have been shown to be effective insect repellents. Look for them in combination products in drugstores or health food stores or experiment with making your own mixtures.
- Use citronella candles in outdoor areas.
- Plant scented geraniums, lemon thyme, and sassafras around the perimeter of your home. These plants naturally repel bugs.
- Avoid wearing perfume, drinking beer, and eating Limburger cheese—all of these attract mosquitoes.
How Dangerous is the West Nile Virus?
I want to take a moment to assuage your fears about West Nile Virus. Yes, there are more cases cropping up across the country than in recent years. However, 70-80 percent of people infected with the virus experience absolutely no symptoms. For those who are symptomatic, fevers, headaches, nausea, rashes, vomiting, and general malaise may be present for weeks (in rare cases longer) but most folks experience a complete recovery. Fewer than one percent of people who are infected with the West Nile Virus have serious symptoms and neurological impairments, and of those impacted most gravely the virus is fatal for about 10 percent.
The CDC notes that people with cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and hypertension are at greater risk of serious infection. My obvious answer: Take steps to bolster your immune system and get these health conditions under control.
Protect Yourself: Give Your Immune System a Leg Up
If you really want to protect yourself from the inside out, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps to beef up your immune system.
- Take a potent daily multivitamin. Look for one that contains more than the RDA of your basic vitamins and minerals. This is the foundation of good health—including a robust immune system.
- Up your intake of vitamin D3. A growing body of research is proving that vitamin D plays an integral role in optimal health. Getting your vitamin D blood level up to the 50-80 ng/mL range is ideal for optimal immune function. Have your blood levels tested and supplement accordingly. For most people, this will be between 2,000-10,000 IU per day.
- Get more vitamin C and zinc. Both of these vitamins are proven immune boosters. If you’re not already getting 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 30 mg of zinc per day, use additional supplements to increase your intake.
- Consider IV Nutrients. When immune-boosting nutrients such as vitamin C are administered intravenously (IV), they bypass the gastrointestinal tract and can be given in much higher therapeutic doses. At the Whitaker Wellness Institute we regularly administer high-dose vitamin C to improve immunity and combat infections.
For treatment at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, or to learn more about how we can help you improve your immune system, give us a call at 866-611-3720.