I’m a mosquito magnet!

Do you have an outdoors event coming up and you’re worried about mosquitoes eating your guests alive? Fear not. Put away the citronella candles. Just invite me.

I’m a mosquito magnet.

According to this article on WebMD, “one in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes.” Additionally:

There’s a tremendous amount of research being conducted on what compounds and odors people exude that might be attractive to mosquitoes,” says Joe Conlon, PhD, technical adviser to the American Mosquito Control Association.”

Maybe I should allow scientific testing on myself to help crack the code. Because I definitely seem to be in the top 10% when it comes to being a target for mosquitoes.

I can attend a patio dinner, cocktails by the pool or a wedding by the river, and I may be the only one who even notices the flying vampires.

Usually my mosquito bites wait until the next day or so to begin to swell up in all of their loveliness (I’ll spare you the goriest details). Occasionally, however, they have a flair for the dramatic. Like an evening last summer when my boyfriend and I joined his family for dinner near Shaver Lake.

Two of the bloodsuckers attacked me as we enjoyed a glass of wine on the front deck, nailing me in the face — the FACE! Within minutes, the bites were swelling up, adding an interesting lumpiness to my visage. I spent dinner slathered with some anti-itch salve, drowsy from a Benadryl I took. (The relationship survived this incident, so that’s a good thing.)

An interesting irony to my latest bout is that I acquired the mosquito bites at a wedding Saturday night along the Kings River near Sanger. The ironic part is that the groom recently recovered from a potentially deadly bout of malaria that he contracted while visiting the Congo this summer as part of a missionary trip.

Malaria outbreaks in the United States these days are fairly rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control website, in 2007 the CDC received reports of 1,505 cases of malaria among persons in the United States. All but one of these cases were acquired outside of the United States; one was acquired through a blood transfusion.

But West Nile virus is a much more common, and serious, threat. This Sept. 10 Los Angeles Times article reports that West Nile virus has caused symptoms in at least 1,993 Americans and as of Sept. 12, has killed 188 so far this year:

It’s unlikely that this virus, which humans contract from infected mosquitoes, will be getting any less dangerous in the near future.

Eliminate sources of standing water on your property. Wear insect repellent if you know you’ll be at risk. If you have been bitten, take care to keep your bite clean to prevent infection.

And if all else fails, invite a mosquito magnet to take the bullet for you.

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