The summer is here, and it brings not only sunny days, but also myriads of insects of various kinds, some of which are really dangerous. There are bugs that are poisonous, and others can transmit serious diseases. Tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise, a new study shows, so knowing what prevention measures there are could help you avoid infection and other problems.
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According to a new study carried out by CDC specialists, the diseases spread by ticks (and sometimes even other insects, such as mosquitoes) include Lyme disease, dengue, West Nile disease, a rare yet dangerous Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Zika virus. However, this list is not comprehensive, and as ticks travel to other regions, they encounter new animal species, from which they transmit diseases that had previously been unknown to the human body.
Migrations of ticks are attributed mostly to the climate getting warmer, and if the temperature is high enough for a longer period, ticks remain active for a long time. The number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease has doubled within the last 14 years, and the consequences that illnesses, which are transmitted by ticks, bring can be really dangerous. If you fail to use antibiotics within one to four months, Lyme disease, which initially manifests itself in the form of pain, fever and skin problems, can lead to further spread of the bacteria causing it, and they can reach even the heart and brain, as well as joints and muscles.
Ways to prevent tick-borne illnesses
The tips below do not guarantee you will not be bitten by a tick: as they are small and can crawl really far (even inside your house), you can be bitten even in your own garden, and since their bite is not painful due to the numbing property of their saliva, you may be surprised to find one dwelling on your belly, back, armpit or some other area. Still, following these precautions can help you reduce the risk of being bitten and thus infected with something it probably carries.
Tip #1. Dress wisely
If you are heading towards a forest, park or whatever place with trees, bushes or tall grass, wear clothes with long sleeves, pants that cover all your skin, a hat, and socks. Prevent ticks from getting underneath your clothes by tucking your shirt into the pants, and pant legs, into the socks. For women, walking with a ponytail or some other hairstyle that leaves hair uncovered or exposed to the environment is not a good idea: opt for buns and wear hats; otherwise ticks can travel to other parts of your body using your hair as a starting point.
Tip #2. Use a quality bug repellent
The substance responsible for warding off ticks can vary, but be it deet, lemon eucalyptus oil or picaridin, their effectiveness is enough to keep insects at bay, including both ticks and mosquitoes. Make sure you are not allergic to the product you have bought, as experiencing anaphylaxis in a distant area, such as a forest, is likely to be extremely dangerous.
Tip #3. Make your house bugproof
Mow your lawn and trim bushes so that no branches can protrude and serve as a spring-board for ticks (they don’t jump, but can wait for you there). Your pets can also become a source of danger, to say nothing of the harm ticks can cause your furry friend. If your cat is an indoor one, regular examination of its skin and fur will not hurt anyway. If your cat loves walking outdoors or you are a dog owner, you can use special anti-tick collars that prevent ticks from attaching to the animal skin. Clean your house on a regular basis, paying attention to dark corners, as ticks like staying in the dark until they have an opportunity to attack their victim.
If you have found a tick on your, someone else’s or your pet’s skin, do not panic. Do not apply any kind of oil or other substances, and follow these instructions instead. Try not to kill the tick, if you want it to be examined by specialists at a laboratory.
Vital Signs: Trends in Reported Vectorborne Disease Cases — United States and Territories, 2004–2016 – Cdc.gov
Tick Removal – Cdc.gov
Tick-Borne Diseases on Rise, CDC Says – Consumerreports.org