It only takes one mosquito to ruin the party


We posted this question on our Facebook page today:

What dangerous epidemic that took place in the autumn of 1933 was discovered by Barnes Hospital researchers to be spread by the Culex mosquito?

The answer? Encephalitis, which is an acute inflammation of the brain that causes swelling of the brain, headache, fever, confusion, and fatigue. More advanced symptoms include seizures, hallucinations and memory loss.

Well, there’s another mosquito-borne illness that you need to look out for this summer and fall, and that’s West Nile Virus.

Over 30,000 people in the United States have been reported with West Nile virus disease since 1999. Of those, almost 13,000 have become seriously ill and more than 1,200 have died.

And it only takes one mosquito bite to get it.

So how do you protect yourself against mosquito bites? Here are some handy suggestions from the CDC:

1. repellents that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and the plant-based oil of lemon eucalyptus are what the CDC recommends. Make sure to spray the repellant on all exposed areas of skin, including ankles. To see a list of brands that contain these products, go here.

2. Anytime you will be spending considerable time outdoors, use repellant. This goes for a short walk around your neighborhood to gardening to playing in that nightly softball game. Mosquitos abound during the summer and fall months, so protect yourself at all times.

3. Clear your yard of any items or areas that collect stagnant water. Mosquitoes love stagnant water, and this is where they breed. Old tired, buckets, empty flower pots should all be emptied and stored away where water can’t collect in them. If you have an uneven yard, try to keep the lower areas as dry as possible, or fill them with dirt or sod.

4. Using citronella candles on your porch, balcony, deck or backyard help to create a barrier to keep the mosquitoes away. Use them close to doorways also in order to keep the little buggers from coming into the house.

5. Light colored and loose-fitting clothes make it more difficult for mosquitoes to bite you.

6. Mosquitoes, like many a baseball fan, like beer. So if you’re a beer drinker, make sure you take precautions with repellant.

7. Strongly scented soaps and perfume/cologne can attract mosquitoes, so try to steer clear of using any of these if you plan on spending any time outdoors.

For more information on the West Nile virus and keeping mosquitoes at bay, check out the page on the CDC website here.


Heart healthy snacks for a Super Bowl Sunday


We’re closing in on Super Bowl XLV this Sunday and many people look forward to this day NOT for the football but for the snacks.

Yup – the snacks. At our house the Little Smokies smothered in rich BBQ sauce, the varieties of savory chips and dips, and of course the cold beverages that accompany such a feast are always on the menu. Which is a dangerous menu to some of us who are really trying to do well for our Biggest Loser competition at work.

If you’re attempting to keep up with your New Year’s Resolution by keeping your eating regime a healthy one, we’ve got some alternative appetizers that will taste delish, fill you up, and keep the caloric intake to a safe level.

1.  Veggie & fruit chips – instead of breaking out the Doritos, get creative and slice those apples & carrots into chips and break out the homemade peanut butter. All of these are low in calories and very filling.

2.  Air-popped popcorn – this is a great alternative to those super-salty chips. And if you’re looking for a seasoning, why not try Butter Buds? Only 5 calories per teaspoon, it tastes like the real thing.

3.  Low-calorie beverages – if you’re staying away from the alcohol but want a tasty alternative, try sparkling water with lime or lemon. You can also whip up a frothy concoction of coffee, soy milk and one of Torani sugar-free syrups if you are a Starbucks Frappucino fanatic but don’t want all the fat and calories. If you can’t get through the game without alcohol, you may want to go for a low-fat beer or a cocktail with a low-calorie mixer such as diet soda. Remember, the rule is that the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories.

I realize that the above alternative require some extra work and extra willpower to get used to, but in the end your body will thank you.


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