Aromatherapy & West Nile Virus
Using essential oils to prevent West Nile virus
West Nile Virus is a potentially life-threatening virus spread by mosquitoes. Prevention is the key to avoiding it and essential oils may help.
West Nile Virus was first recorded in 1937 and got its name from the place it was first discovered – the West Nile region of Uganda. From Uganda it spread to the Mediterranean countries and warmer parts of Europe. On arriving in North America in 1999, the strain appears to have changed, producing more polio-like symptoms and paralysis (CBC News, Sept. 23, 2008). Patients faced more life-threatening symptoms leading them to be hooked up to ventilators unable to move or breath.
How West Nile Virus is Spread
West Nile Virus is an avian virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected bird it can then transfer the virus to other birds, animals and humans by biting them.
West Nile Virus Symptoms
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile Virus “can cause serious, life-altering and even fatal disease”. About 80% of people who contract the virus develop no symptoms. About 20% of victims experience West Nile Virus Fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. About 1 in 150 victims will develop more serious symptoms including headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
Preventing the Spread of West Nile Virus Locally
- People, particularly in the United States, who favour aerial spraying of insecticides in areas with large mosquito populations. While this tactic will reduce populations and potentially reduce infections, many people are concerned about the side effects of the insecticides.
- Mosquitoes breed in standing water so the public should ensure there is not standing water on their property.
- Many people who are opposed to insecticide spraying advocate for the introduction of more natural predators such as fish, birds, bats and dragonflies.
Deet-Free Insect repellent
Make sure you use a good, deet-free insect repellant whenever you go out. Some aromatherapy companies, including Green Valley Aromatherapy, make a deet-free insect repellant from pure essential oils (Not available in Canada). If you can’t locate a ready-made natural insect repellent, try the following essential oil recipe.
Essential Oils to Repel Mosquitos
Eucalyptus citriodora (lemon eucalyptus) and Citronella are two of the most effective essential oils to use against mosquitoes. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) lists Eucalyptus citriodora as one of the “EPA registered products that provide repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of disease carrying mosquitoes. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection: EPA registered products that provide repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of disease carrying mosquitoes. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection.”
Recipe for Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent
Pour 30ml of rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or vodka into an empty plastic spray bottle. Add 3ml of any of the following essential oils or a combination of these oils: Eucalyptus citriodora, Citronella, Clove, Cedarwood, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Lemongrass. Mix well and spray on the skin regularly. (Click here for essential oils).
*This is educational information and any opinions expressed here-in do not replace professional medical advice. If you are ill, see a suitably qualified medical practitioner.*
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