How Do You Protect Yourself from West Nile Disease While Hunting?

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

How Do You Protect Yourself from West Nile Disease While Hunting?

Posted 2012-08-27T10:53:00Z  by  Stephanie Mallory

How Do You Protect Yourself from West Nile Disease While Hunting?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that the 2012 West Nile disease outbreak is the largest in U.S. history. The CDC reports that as of last week, 47 states had reported infection totaling 1,118 cases, including 41 reported deaths. My home state of Alabama just reported its first death from West Nile disease last week.

Experts believe the reason for the high number of cases this year might be because of the unseasonably warm weather. States reporting the most cases include Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Although you should take precaution, there's no reason to panic. According to the CDC, most mosquitoes do not carry West Nile. Approximately one in every 500 are infected. Even more fortunately, approximately 80 percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito never get sick. Close to 20 percent will exemplify mild symptoms, such as vomiting, fever and headache, and about one in 150 will develop severe illness, which can lead to coma, paralysis or even death. Those with a weakened immune system or people over the age of 50 are most likely to become severely ill with the infection.

So, how should a hunter, who spends much of his or her time outdoors, avoid becoming a victim of this potentially deadly disease? One of the CDC's suggestions is to avoid outside activity during dawn and dusk, which is extremely inconvenient for hunters, since game animals are most active during dawn and dusk.

The CDC also recommends wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts, which you're most likely to do anyway, and Consumer Report recommends using repellents with DEET as the active ingredient. But, DEET has a strong onder that will spook game. So, what's the solution?

While perusing the shelf at the drug store the other day, I stumbled across some bottles of scent-free repellents that contain DEET, although I assume they still contain enough scent for deer to detect. But, perhaps a little odor is more inconspicuous than the movement required for swatting away mosquitoes.

I've personally had phenomenal results with my ThermaCELL, which uses allethrin, a copy of a repellent that naturally occurs in chrysanthemum flowers. I remember one especially buggy turkey-hunting trip when I forgot to take my ThermaCELL with me. I ended up swatting at mosquitoes all day and have no doubt that my movements scared off all turkeys in the area. The next day, I took my device and never had to swat once.

So, what do you use during your hunts to ward off mosquitoes? Have any of you ever suffered from West Nile?