Summer is the season for spending time outdoors, but unfortunately, this can put us in contact with pests that carry disease. Ticks and mosquitoes, for instance, can both transmit illness to humans, and new research shows that they are doing just that this season.
Federal health officials now say that the number of people getting diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites has more than tripled in the U.S. in recent years (McNeil, 2018). More specifically, at least nine such diseases have been discovered or newly introduced here since 2004.
It’s new diseases, such as the Heartland virus, that have health officials concerned. However, it isn’t the only problem – old diseases, such as Lyme disease, are still popping up across the country as well.
And then there’s Zika, which hasn’t gone away, despite being out of the headlines.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that warmer weather is the primary cause for these pests surviving and transmitting diseases to unsuspecting humans. Ticks are now thriving in areas that were previously too cold for them, while mosquitoes are breaking out in regions that experience hot spells.
Then, there are the reasons that fly under the radar, such as human travel and suburban reforestation. All of it makes for one big health concern, especially because there are few vaccines available for diseases, such as Zika.
Although the spreading of these diseases is on the rise, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your family. The CDC recommends wearing EPA-registered insect repellants to keep mosquitoes at bay (“Prevent Mosquito Bites,” 2018). Being diligent about reapplication is also essential to ensuring that these insects don’t have a chance to bite.
Another way to protect yourself is to cover up. Wearing sleeves and pants is an easy way to protect yourself while you’re outdoors, especially in tall grass where ticks may reside. However, there are also repellents you can use that are specifically designed for wooded areas.
Finally, keeping the area around your home from harboring these pests is essential. For example, eliminate standing water (e.g., bird baths) whenever possible, as these can be breeding grounds for insects like mosquitoes. Repairing screened windows and doors to keep out the pests can also prevent them from coming into your home.
By taking just a few of these tips into account, you can effectively reduce the chances of contracting one of these ailments.
“Prevent Mosquito Bites.” CDC. Retrieved May 11, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html
McNeil, Donald. “Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, CDC Finds.” Retrieved May 11, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/health/ticks-mosquitoes-diseases.html.