Malnutrition: America’s Hidden Hunger

When we think of hunger, images of starving, emaciated children come to mind. Although famine is much of a thing of the past, hunger is still a very real issue for many children in the United States, and one aspect of hunger is particularly dangerous: malnutrition.

85% of Americans aren’t getting their daily dose of vitamins and minerals, and it’s costing not just those individuals, but society as a whole. As rates of obesity and heart disease continue to climb and hospitals continue to spend more and more time treating preventable diseases, we need to take a serious look at our diets to ensure that we are getting everything we need.

Malnutrition occurs when there is a micronutrient deficiency in our diet (not enough vitamins and minerals are being consumed). Thankfully, malnutrition is relatively easy to diagnose, and here are some of the primary symptoms caused by malnutrition:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weight Loss.
  • Long-term malnutrition can cause physical and mental disability. It weakens your immune system and increases the risk of developing disease.

The issue is particularly dire for newborns and babies as they are growing quickly and are undergoing furious development in their cognitive, physical and motor skills. A malnutrition deficiency at this stage is particularly dangerous since there is no catching back up and fixing the issue later in life. Delays in development (mental and physical) will stay with them for life.

Treatment is straightforward: ensure you are getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. To supplement your diet, take a multivitamin and give your children one as well (they will probably prefer the gummy version!). Eat more fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from foods containing empty calories such as alcohol and junk food.

The key to eating healthy is to maintain a balanced diet that encompasses the four major food groups. These four groups are fruits, vegetables, grains and protein foods. The grains that you want most in your diet are whole grains. This is because whole grains provide you with iron and B vitamins. Sources of whole grains include brown rice, whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal. Foods that are high in protein include poultry, eggs, seafood, meat and nuts.

Malnutrition is an easily preventable problem that is affecting millions of Americans and people around the world. By supplementing our diet and ensuring that our meals are well balanced, we give our children the best opportunity to develop into happy and healthy people like their parents.

As always, consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important not to stray too far from a balanced diet. Do you have healthy takes on some of your favorite holiday fare? Please share in the comments below!


Avoid Colorado Tick Fever

Enjoyment of the outdoors is one of the many pleasures that come with living in Colorado. As any Coloradan will proudly boast, the summer months bring countless ways to appreciate the various wonders of nature. Such activities include hiking, biking, camping, fishing and boating. Unfortunately, all of this summer fun also comes with some hazards. One in particular is the presence of ticks. Due to Colorado’s high elevation, ticks are quite common.

Although Lyme disease – transmitted from ticks – is not a problem in the state, Colorado tick fever is a tick-borne illness that is very prevalent. The disease comes from the Rocky Mountain Wood tick and is most common between April and July. It is important to know what measures to take to safeguard your family from this viral infection. Knowing where to find Rocky Mountain Wood ticks, how to avoid being bitten by them and having the ability to spot the symptoms early can make a world of difference. Here are a few tips to remember when spending time outdoors this summer.

Know where to look. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of animals. They can be found in areas where they are most likely to come across possible hosts. These are usually grassy, well-traveled spots near fields and wooded areas.

Get covered. When spending time camping, hiking and biking in wooded places, be sure to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. It is also recommended to wear shoes that completely cover your feet while minimizing any exposed skin around the ankles. In addition, wearing clothing that predominately features lighter colors will make ticks easier to locate and remove.

Use repellent. DEET and Permethrin are two popular tick repellents. Spraying either one of these on clothing has been known to be effective. Keep in mind that repellents should not be sprayed near the eyes and mouth. In particular, Permethrin should not be applied to the skin.

Remove ticks effectively. If a tick is found in the skin, be sure to use dull tweezers to gently remove it. It is important not to crush the tick while pulling it out. Crushing the tick could result in infection if parts of it are left in the skin.

Know the symptoms. Be able to spot the signs of Colorado tick fever. Symptoms that accompany a tick bite include sudden chills and high fever, aching muscles, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and a faint rash. If these symptoms do not subside within a week, contact your physician.

With some preparation and diligence, the risk of contracting Colorado tick fever can be greatly lowered. By continuing to be aware of your surroundings, you can ensure your family’s enjoyment of the great Colorado outdoors without enduring such setbacks as Colorado tick fever.

Eye Health

6 Tips for Healthy Eyes

Sight is one of our most important senses. Colorado is exposed to high amounts of UV rays due to our high altitude. Whether outside in the sun or at home/work glued to a screen, they are subject to far more stress than ever before. Thankfully, there are ways we can keep them seeing clear well into the future. Here are some tips to protect your eyes, for the entire family:

Get your eyes tested once a year. Seeing an optometrist is a way to ensure your vision is healthy. Optometrists examine your eyes to make sure everything is running smoothly, looking for diseases and any changes in your vision. They can recommend solutions, such as glasses, contacts, or corrective surgery (LASIK) to improve your eyesight as well.

Wear sunglasses when outside. The sun provides one of the heaviest pressures on our eyes; in Colorado at such high elevations it is even more significant. Not only do sunglasses keep the sun out of your eyes, but they also remove UV rays that cause irreparable damage. Make sure you buy 100% UV protection sunglasses, to keep those damaging rays out. When buying, glasses that say they’re prescription ready are definitely 100% UV protected.

Wear a hat. Hats keep your eyes shaded from the sun. When combined with sunglasses, this duo will greatly lift the burden off your eyes when you are outdoors. If you are going to be outdoors for long periods of time, then wearing a hat should be a must for every member of your family.

Use reading glasses. Whether you are reading a book or on the computer surfing the web, reading glasses make it easier on your eyes. Reading glasses allow you to focus on smaller details, like words on a page or screen, meaning your eyes don’t have to work as hard.

Wear eye protection when necessary. If you are doing yard work, such as mowing the yard or woodworking, make sure you wear eye protection. Dirt and dust, as well as foreign objects, can get into your eyes and cause serious damage.

If you get something in your eyes wash, don’t rub, them. During allergy season, pollen can get into our eyes and cause itchiness. It’s important to refrain from rubbing them as our eyes are fragile and rubbing can cause abrasions that damage the surface of the eye. If something gets into your eye, instead of rubbing, try washing it in the sink by allowing cool water to slowly flow over your eye.

Our eyes are one of the most important assets of our bodies. By taking the necessary steps to keep them protected, we can ensure that we give ourselves the best chance to see into the future. What strategies do you use to make sure every member of your family’s eyes stay protected? Share with us below.

Camping Tips To Improve Your Experience

For Colorado families, camping is a beloved way to enjoy the state’s many outdoor benefits. Like all outdoor activities, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind in order to stay safe while you’re having fun. Here are some important safety tips:

Safety supplies. While preparing for your camping trip, include the following items to help stay safe and comfortable:

  • Map of area
  • Compass or GPS
  • Cell phone
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Sunscreen

Besides the above items, a first-aid kit is also good to have with you while camping. Your first-aid kit should include the following:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • A cold pack
  • Supplies for splinting
  • Dressings for large wounds
  • Band-Aids
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Neosporin
  • Benadryl
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antiseptic soap

Finding and Setting Up Your campsite. Before deciding on a site, scan the area for any hints of use by wildlife. Some key signs to look for are animal tracks and droppings, wasp nests in the ground, and scratches on the trees. Also be wary of spots with abundant berry growth. These areas might attract bears.

Campfire Safety. When looking for places to build a campfire, fire safety must always be considered. Be sure to abide by the rules of your specific camping area. For instance, do not start a fire if your campground does not allow campfires. Also, be aware of hazardous conditions. If conditions in your area are extremely dry, do not attempt to start a fire.

When building a new fire pit or fire ring, place it at least fifteen feet away from flammable objects like bushes, trees and tents. Avoid branches that hang too low in the direct vicinity of the fire. The pit itself needs to be about a foot deep. Take out all grass, sticks and leaves within a 10-foot diameter area and construct a circle of rocks around the pit or ring.

Use small, dry pieces of wood for your fire and only use wood from dead trees. Place a shovel and a bucket of water close to the fire for emergencies. Ensure your fire remains at a controllable size and never leave it alone.

When you are ready to put your fire out, pour enough water on it to make sure every ember is drenched. Use dirt if water is not available. After stirring it all in, check to see that everything is cold before leaving or going to sleep.

Poisonous plants. When camping, it is a good idea to make sure your family members are familiar with which plants to stay away from. The most common are poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. Unknown plants should be avoided. Remember to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. If contact with a poisonous plant is suspected, wash the area as soon as possible and apply hydrocortisone cream to suppress any itching.

Once safety is assured, the fun camping memories can be made. Remember these safety tips and have a great camping trip!

What You Need To Know About Hiking Your First 14er

The State of Colorado has 54 individual 14,000’ mountains, more than any other state. We take pride that there is almost nowhere along the Front Range where we can’t see one of these towering peaks. If you’ve never hiked a 14er, or been to the top, now is a great time to cross this adventure off your bucket list.

Hiking a 14er is no easy task. Most require six to eight on the trail, good levels of fitness, caution and preparation when venturing into this extreme terrain. Arrive to the trailhead early and leave plenty of time to reach the summit before noon! You want to be well away from the peak when/if thunderstorms roll in around midday. June through August is the best time to climb these mountains as trails are largely devoid of snow. The greatest threat when hiking is exposure to the elements and in the summer months the threat comes from afternoon thunderstorms. A lightning strike on Mount Bierstadt recently hospitalized 3 hikers.

Preparation is of vital importance when taking on one of these peaks. Here are a few basic items to pack:

Sunscreen. There’s nothing like a sunburn to erase the memories of a great accomplishment – like climbing to the top of a mountain. As we discussed in our last blog, skin care is vital to your personal health.

Water! If you remember anything, remember this: bring plenty of water. The majority of unnecessary injuries that occur on these slopes is due to dehydration. Aim for at least half a gallon (two Nalgene bottles) and ensure you are already hydrated when you reach the trail.

Light Jacket. For every 1000’ gain in elevation, the average temperature drops 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit. It might be warm and toasty in Denver, but at the top of that 14,000’ peak the temperature will be much lower. You’re going to want a light jacket at the top.

Hiking Boots. Leave the running shoes at home; they lack the proper support you need when hoofing up a high alpine trail on variable terrain. Wearing a pair of proper hiking boots will lower your chance of rolling an ankle and provide better traction when trudging up a mountain slope.

Munchies. Trail mix, Cliff bars, nature valley granola bars all make for great trail snacks. When you reach the summit, or need some extra energy for the climb, you’ll want a tasty treat.

When you have all the required gear, you need to find is a route. Here are some of the best 14ers for beginners, including a couple mountains you can get to the top of even if you can’t walk to the top.

Mount Evans (elevation: 14,265’)

This is the crown jewel above Denver, Colorado. It’s the closest 14er to Denver and also is one of the most accessible. Mount Evans wilderness area is a short 30 min drive outside of Denver to Idaho Springs. A $6 entrance fee is all you need to access the numerous trails in the area including summit trails. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take the drive up Mount Evans on the highest paved road in the United States!

Pikes Peak (elevation: 14, 114’)

This is the mountain that inspired America the Beautiful. It’s the most famous mountain in Colorado. It’s also one of the most trafficked mountains in our states with a road and cog rail (train) reaching to the top, where there’s also a gift shop. Perhaps not the best for those looking for a more wild adventure, but there’s something comforting in the fact that at the top you can enjoy fresh fudge.

Mount Bierstadt (elevation: 14,064’)

Trail Roundtrip Length: 7 miles

Another 14er near Denver. Located just out of Georgetown at the top of Guanella Pass. Seven miles round trip makes this peak a relatively short trek, however the trail travels over 3000 vertical feet from trailhead to peak, meaning it is steep!

Grays Peak (elevation: 14,278’) and Torrey’s Peak (elevation: 14,275’)

Trail Roundtrip Length: 8.5 miles

If you want to cross two peaks off your list, then Grays and Torrey’s are perhaps the two easiest 14ers to hike in one day. If you are hiking with young children, it’s probably best to stick to just one of the two (Grays Peak) but if you get an early enough start you can easily cross off both of these peaks.

Quandary Peak (elevation: 14,265’)

Trail Roundtrip Length: 6.75 miles

Thanks to its location and easy access, located at Hoosier Pass between Breckenridge and Fairplay, this peak gets plenty of traffic. It’s a relatively easy climb and like many of these hikes can be done in half a day, making it the perfect early morning hike.

Hiking a 14er is one of the most rewarding outdoor activities in all of Colorado. Use this guide to help you set up your next trek, and before you know it you will become a regular peak bagger, perhaps joining the ranks of the few who’ve climbed every single 14er in the state.

For those who are unable to make it to the mountains, there is a program called flat 14ers that converts activity like walking, swimming, and hiking into steps that can then be converted into reaching the summit of a 14er.

Men’s Health Month: Prostate Health

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men, and more than 2 million men in the United States are prostate cancer survivors. Although prostate cancer can be deadly, it is more often a slow forming cancer that when caught in time can be treated with very high success rates. We spent last Sunday honoring the men in our lives, but we may have neglected giving them the most important gift of all – good health. Educating is key to preventing, identifying, treating and ensuring good prostate health.

The prostate is a small walnut shaped gland located between the bladder and penis. The urethra runs through the prostate and is responsible for creating fluid to nourish and protect the sperm. It is responsible for creating the seminal fluid that transports semen out of the penis.

There are several primary prostate issues that men can develop as they age:

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate often caused by an infection. It causes trouble during urination. It is the number one reason why men under the age of 50 go to an urologist.

Enlarged Prostate occurs as the prostate begins to grow, due to various reasons. Nearly all men will develop this condition as they age. As it grows it will press on the bladder and urethra, causing difficulties during urination.

Prostate cancer is the biggest worry among prostate diseases. It is difficult to catch early, which is vital for ensuring proper and effective treatment. Early stage symptoms may be non-existent, which makes frequent and consistent check ups vital, particularly for men over 45. Like prostatitis and enlarged prostate, symptoms include frequent urination, difficult starting and stopping, weak/interrupted urinary stream, and pain or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation. Early stage prostate cancer is successfully treatable in nearly all cases, but if this cancer spreads outside the prostate then it is a far more dangerous situation.

There are several factors that increase likelihood for prostate cancer and other prostate related diseases.

Age. The Prostate cancer rate is higher for individuals older than 50, and some studies suggest that most men over 70 have some form of prostate cancer.

Family history of prostate cancer, and other related prostate diseases, including breast cancer, increases risk. African Americans have the highest rate of prostate cancer in the world.

Diet. Areas with high levels of meat and dairy fat in their diets also have the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world. These foods are linked to higher male hormone levels, which fuel the growth of these cancerous cells. Obesity also increases one’s risk of developing prostate cancer, and other prostate diseases.

There’s little anyone can do about their family history and age, besides ensuring they receive regular screenings. However, we can decrease the risk of developing prostate diseases by making smarter and healthier decisions with our diets. Here are several diet suggestions that will help you mitigate these risks.

  • Eat five or more fruits and veggies a day.
  • Alternate whole grains over white flour/rice.
  • Limit your fat intake from meats, stay away from high fat meats such as lamb, high fat beef, pork sausage.
  • Eliminate processed meats from your diet, including: ham, bacon, corned beef, salami, hot dogs, sausages, etc.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to less than three drinks per week.

June is men’s health month and a great time to make sure that our men understand the importance of getting regular check ups to maintain health. Prostate diseases are extremely common in men, and there are numerous resources to ensure that your man is taken care of. Remind them to get a prostate check today.

Gift Ideas for a Healthy Father’s Day

Father’s day, a time to thank the men in our life for all they do. This Sunday, give your dad a gift that will remind him you are thinking of him long after Father’s day passes by giving him something that will help keep him healthy and active.


Let your dad kick back with the ENO Hammock. These are awesome, and quickly gaining popularity – for good reason. They can transform nearly any place into a personal lounge; all you need is two trees. Buy them with the attachable straps and you have an easy to set up, hassle free, relaxation tool. Where these really shine is in portable size, you can take them literally anywhere.

Get him into yoga with a Brogamat. A fun twist on a healthy activity, Brogramats have created yoga mats with a masculine twist. Mats and cases feature images of firewood, burritos, and toy soldiers. Durable quality, these mats are helping to shake the feminine image of yoga.

Help him find a new hobby: homebrew starter kit. Homebrewing is going through a renaissance in the United States. An easy, and inexpensive hobby to start, you can help your father find a new and exciting hobby brewing his own beer. He’ll love showing off his homebrew collections to friends and family when they visit his house, and if your lucky he’ll share some with you.


Get him outside more with this tenkara kit. Tenkara is a form of traditional Japanese fishing. Similar to fly fishing, Tenkara differs in that you only need a rod and a line, whereas fly-fishing requires a reel. With less fly patterns, this type of fishing relies much more on technique than gear, and its minimal nature has only broadened its Zen appeal.

Help your dad find a movie with the Google Chromecast. The Chromecast is one extremely cool device. A less expensive alternative to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire, the Chromecast transforms any television into a fully capable streaming device. With a growing number of supported apps (HBOGo, Netflix, ESPN, etc.), and an expansive collection of movies and shows on the Google Play store, the Chromecast will keep your dad entertained for days on end and makes sure he will never miss his show.

Of course, great gifts don’t need a hefty price tag attached. Spend some quality time with Dad on Sunday by having a picnic in the park, going on a hike or organizing a neighborhood baseball game. This weekend’s forecast is calling for lots of sun, so the weather should be perfect to enjoy some outdoor time together – just don’t forget the sunscreen! How are you planning to celebrate on Sunday? Tell us your favorite things to do with Dad in the comments below!

food allergies intolerance

What you need to know about food allergies

Food allergies affect more than 15 million Americans. From childhood to adulthood, allergies can cause serious health complications and significantly affect those living with them. Now, thanks to advances in medical technology we know more about food allergies and intolerances than ever before.

You may have noticed an allergic response to food yourself. A certain type of food that doesn’t sit well in your stomach, or a slight rash when coming in contact with certain substances – symptoms of food allergies vary in severity. It is important that you understand how to identify symptoms, particularly those of greater severity. Some of the most common food allergy symptoms include:

  • Tingly/itchy mouth
  • Rash, hives, eczema
  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

In rare cases, the body will have a severe allergic reaction to exposure to an allergen called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include a constriction of the airwaves, swollen throat, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, shock as a result of a severe drop in blood pressure, dizziness/lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness. Emergency treatment is essential if you are experiencing anaphylaxis. People with severe food allergies are often required to carry an ephedrine pen with them to use in case they undergo anaphylaxis.

What causes food allergies? Like pollen and other seasonal allergies, the immune system mistakes the allergen as something harmful, and quickly undergoes a response to fight off these invaders. Food allergies may pass down from generation to generation, and many children that suffer from food allergies eventually outgrow them. The most common food allergens include:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat

Food intolerances are a condition similar to food allergies where the body undergoes a response or reaction when exposed to a certain type of food. Some examples of food intolerances include: absence of enzyme to digest a food (lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance), food poisoning, sensitivity to food additives (food coloring, artificial sweeteners), and celiac disease. Although these conditions may elicit a response similar to that of an allergic reaction, these conditions tend to occur from the bodies lack of ability to handle a certain type of protein or enzyme.

The best treatment for both food allergies and intolerances is to simply avoid the trigger food entirely. If you think you may have a food allergy or intolerance, stay away from that food and see a health specialist. In the meantime try and avoid the most common food allergens like wheat, nuts, milk and soy. There are numerous tests that can be performed which can specify which foods you are allergic too, as well as recommendations for treatment you will receive.

It has never been a better time to have food allergies; there are many alternatives for your favorite foods. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and allergen-free foods are available at most local grocery stores, but make sure you know how to read a label.

Food allergies affect millions of Americans and people throughout the world.
Thanks to advances in medical technology, people living with food allergies and food intolerances now have a better chance for proper diagnosis and more alternatives when going out to eat. By correctly identifying food allergies and intolerances and making the proper lifestyle adjustments you can be better on your way to living a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Stay safe during a thunderstorm

June in Colorado means beautiful sunny days spending time outdoors. But the beautiful weather also comes with a catch, and in the summer months that is the daily afternoon thunderstorm. Whether you’re on the course playing 18, hiking in the mountains, or at your child’s soccer match – thunderstorms can come out of nowhere and dampen your day. Living with this reality, we need to understand the risks associated with thunderstorms and how best to minimize them to maximize our time spent enjoying the outdoors.

Thunderstorms require three ingredients: moisture, unstable and rising air. In the Front Range, as dense cold air moving over the mountains descends and hot air from the plains rises – it creates convection. Convection occurs as warmer air rises and transfers heat to the upper levels of the atmosphere. The water vapor transported by this warmer air cools, and condenses into a cloud. As this process continues, the cloud grows bigger and higher – cumulonimbus clouds can reach up to 75,000 feet in the air. As the water droplets cool they turn into ice. As these ice particles collide they create an electrical charge, and when enough electrical charge forms we get a bolt of lightning.

Thunderstorms present many dangers:

  • Heavy rainfall can cause flash flooding.
  • Sparks from lightning strikes can start forest fires.
  • Hail and heavy wind can cause damage to trees, cars, and structures.
  • Under the right conditions, tornadoes can form and have been known to cause devastating damage.
  • Lightning strikes can kill people.

As Coloradans we spend a lot of time outdoors and we will inevitably be caught in a thunderstorm from time to time. Here are some tips to ensure that you stay safe from the many ways a thunderstorm and lightning can harm you:

Check the forecast. If you are spending anytime outdoors, make sure you check the forecast. If meteorologists are calling for severe weather change your plans. The last thing you want is be stuck on a mountaintop in a thunderstorm, so plan accordingly.

Find shelter. Unprotected and exposed in a thunderstorm is the worst place you can be. Try to take shelter in a building or vehicle. If you are in an open field, find a low-lying area, but be wary of flooding. Also, beware of small metal structures like dugouts and sheds. These structures offer relief from the rain, but are dangerous places to be if stuck by lightning.

If you can hear thunder, you are not safe. Lightning produced by a thunderstorm can reach you as far as 10 miles away. If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning, so take necessary precautions to ensure safety.

Avoid lightning prone areas. Hilltops (summits) and ridge lines, open fields, tall isolated trees, and the beach or any body of water make for attractive targets for lightning strikes. Also avoid natural lighting rods like tall, isolated trees in open areas.

Avoid contact with convection items. Even if you’re indoors, lightning from a thunderstorm can still harm or even kill you. Avoid using indoor plumbing and running water. Also, stay away from electrical outlets and appliances connected to them. Don’t stand near walls, windows, or doors that border outside.

By taking the necessary precautions during a thunderstorm, you will keep yourself and your family safe. Don’t let a little foul weather ruin your outing by staying educated and proactive in your family’s safety.

mosquitoes are the world's most dangerous animal

Avoid Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus this Summer

It’s not lions, tigers, or bears (oh, my!) but rather the mosquito that is the deadliest animal in the world. It’s not even close. Known for carrying numerous diseases ranging from Dengue to Malaria, these tiny flying bugs kill more than 1 million people each year! The diseases they spread sicken millions more, and in some of the most infested areas they have altered human activity by forcing people to dislocate to avoid them.

In the United States, we’re lucky that mosquitoes rarely carry diseases as severe as these, but they can still cause damage beyond disrupting a camping trip. West Nile Virus (WNV) is the biggest threat from these bugs in the US, and in Colorado we have one of the highest rates of contraction of this mosquito carried disease. In the 2003 West Nile outbreak, there were roughly 3000 reported cases of WNV and 63 deaths in Colorado alone. Every year we hear about cases of West Nile popping up across the country; here are some steps to avoid pesky bites and avoid this dangerous disease.

Wear long sleeved shirts and pants outdoors. The proboscis (the “straw” the mosquito uses to suck up blood from its victim) isn’t long enough to penetrate most clothing, so wearing long sleeves and pants can go a long way to keep mosquitoes off your body. Hats, gloves, scarves also go a long way in keeping these bugs off you (though they may not be practical during the summer heat). If it’s covered up, the mosquito won’t be able to get to you. If you want to go even further, you can wear netting over your head. You might look a little silly, but you’ll have the last laugh when everyone else is applying calamine lotion.

Avoid or remove standing water. Nearly any standing water can house mosquito larvae. In nature these bodies of water include streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes. In your neighborhood and yard they breed in retention ponds and any other body of water, including small spaces such as an open bucket or plastic covers. Be sure you are proactive when you are near these types of areas, wearing appropriate clothing and applying repellant. If you have standing water on your property, remove it.

Try a Natural Mosquito Repellant. If you are worried about the chemicals in traditional bug sprays then you should try a natural bug repellant. Many oil extracts from sources like cinnamon, thyme, soybean and citronella provide natural relief from mosquitoes. If you’re sitting outside consider lighting a citronella candle, or burning rosemary over an open flame, to thwart those pesky critters. If you do use a DEET based repellant, remember you don’t need to spray these repellants on your open-skin; The American Mosquito Control Association states that people should avoid spraying high concentration DEET (50 percent or more) on their skin.

Avoid Mosquitoes’ Active Time. Mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and in the evening, although they are active around the clock. If you are going to be out during these peak times, make sure you take the necessary steps to avoid being bitten by covering your skin and using repellants (natural or DEET).

With all the rain we’ve gotten in the last month, there will be plenty of mosquitoes flying around this summer. If you take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent mosquito bites in the first place, you will greatly reduce your risk of contracting West Nile Virus. Make sure your family and friends know how to avoid being bitten and we can all enjoy a happier and healthier summer together. Do you have any other tips to avoid mosquito bites? Let us know in the comments below.