YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Centers for Disease Control reported that the number of people getting sick from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas had triple in recent years.
The increase in diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea in the U.S. is likely due to many factors. Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas, the CDC reports.
Also, overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever before. A traveler can be infected with a mosquito-borne disease, like Zika, in one country, and then unknowingly transport it home.
Finally, new germs spread by mosquito and tick bites have been discovered and the list of nationally notifiable diseases has grown.
As the weather warms up and schools start to let out for the summer, kids will be heading outside. Locally, doctors and veterinarians are concerned about the increased risk from insect bites, and health experts want everyone to be aware of the dangers they can cause.
The first thing you should do is educate your family about the bugs they should be on the lookout for and explain why they are harmful. Then, be prepared when you go outside using these guidelines from the CDC:
- Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Treat items such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear
- Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets
- Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets
- Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home
If you do get bit or stung it’s important to know how to remove the critter or the stinger, but you have to be careful.
“You never want to pull it out or use tweezer’s to pull the stinger out. You want to use something flat like a credit card edge to scrape it out and then clean it immediately with soap and water and put some kind of antihistamine on it,” said Autumn Jones, nurse practitioner with CVS Minute Clinic.
When it comes to ticks, Jones says you want to use tweezers to remove it. Grab the insect near the skin and pull firmly. It’s important to get the whole bug out.
Most of the time a bite or a sting will heal fine on its own, but there are times when complications can arise and a “bullseye” type rash will develop or other symptoms that would indicate an infection or illness.
“That doesn’t usually occur until a couple of days to weeks after the bite. If you see something like that where you know you had a tick bite for sure you want to follow up with your primary care doctor again or come into a clinic such as this one to get evaluated,” Jones said. “There are treatment options for that. We would do a round of antibiotics and sometimes you need further treatment.”
Signs of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes.