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Essential Protection

January 10, 2011

Essential West Nile Prevention

Climate Change=Mosquitoes=Disease or Death

I’m not going to ask if you believe all the buzz about climate change or global warming.

Instead I’ll ask you this: “Do you doubt that mosquitoes can infect you with life-threatening West Nile Virus? Do mosquitoes thrive in warmer climates?”

Don’t answer yet.

First, I’d like to share some pesky truths with you:

– In 2000 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that global warming had caused malaria to spread from three districts in western Kenya to 13 and led to epidemics of the disease in Rwanda and Tanzania.

– In Sweden, cases of tick-borne encephalitis have risen in direct correlation to warmer winters. Asian tiger mosquitoes, the type that carry dengue fever, have been reported recently as far north as the Netherlands.

– West Nile virus killed 304 people in North America in 2002 and 276 in 2007. Since 2001 it has killed 22 people in Maryland, Virginia.

– South Africa’s environmental affairs minister said last year that the country could face a fourfold increase in malaria by 2020.

– The Canadian government now attributes the boost in West Nile virus to climate change, and last year warned that the country might eventually experience dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria.

We already know that mosquitoes are disease carriers and the risk of West Nile infection from mosquito bites has also become a reality for many people around the world.

The first thing we reach for, of course, is DEET repellent – considered the “gold standard” for repelling mosquitoes. DEET can provide effectiveness for about three hours but the downside is that it also has some possible toxicity issues, especially when used with other skin lotions such as sun block.

There may be a better, safer yet still unregistered alternative – essential oils.

Yes, essential oils tested against many species of mosquitoes, can also be equally effective deterrents to mosquitoes landing or biting humans and animals.

Keep in mind, however, that the EPA has only registered these insect repellants: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus, OLE.

The registered OLE product is a synthetic molecule formulated by repellent producers, but that is not the more generally available OLE. In fact, the EPA just recently approved OLE as a DEET-like mosquito repellent, meaning it is effective against mosquitoes when used properly.

Things you should know about lemon eucalyptus OLE:

– Application every two hours to exposed skin areas is critical to be effective.

– Essential oil of lemon eucalyptus is not suggested for use in children less than three years of age.

– The oils may stain clothing.

Some other common essential oils to repel mosquitoes are Rose Geranium, catnip, Citronella, Lemongrass and Peppermint (for children, use Spearmint).

Maybe you’ll choose to ignore the warnings about climate change but I’m willing to bet you won’t be able to ignore the mosquitoes when they come buzzing around you or your kids.

West Nile is a reality in your life so you must be prepared to fight it now.

For more information visit me, Dr. James Geiger, the oilMD at

Dr. James L. (Tad) Geiger has been an anesthesiologist since 1986 and an aromatherapist since 2004. He went to college in San Francisco where worked in a San Francisco hospital doing cardiac anesthesia for his father who is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon. Dr. Geiger’s book, The Sweet Smell of Success, offers critical health information on a number of essential oil blends, especially oils scientifically designed for women’s and athletes’ health to enhance whole body wellness.

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