Outdoor activities are hallmarks of summertime, especially as the sun sets and the fireflies come out. And then come the mosquitos. Protecting yourself and your family against pests like mosquitos and ticks is simple but necessary, as these bugs can carry serious diseases. Often, diseases carried by mosquitos and ticks cause flu-like symptoms that may crossover with symptoms of COVID-19 – so it’s important to be able to tell them apart. Here are four reasons to take precautions against mosquitos and ticks this year:
- West Nile virus
Officials have detected West Nile virus activity in Michigan as of June 2020. It’s spread to people from the bites of an infected mosquito that has picked up the virus by biting an infected bird. West Nile virus causes a high fever, confusion, muscle weakness and a severe headache. In severe cases, West Nile can cause neurological problems like meningitis and encephalitis.
- Zika virus
The Asian tiger mosquito that carries the Zika virus, as well as other viruses like dengue and chikungunya, has been found in Wayne County as of June 2020. The Asian tiger mosquito is invasive and not native to Michigan, but has been expanding its range in the U.S. due to warming climate trends and travel in commercial products shipped from other states. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, many people only have mild symptoms or none at all. The risk lies heavily with pregnant women contracting the virus, with results that can be much more severe.
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, is a virus spread by infected mosquitoes. It’s rare for humans to contract symptoms: only four to five percent of human EEE infections result in illness. Symptoms begin with a sudden onset headache, high fever, chills and vomiting – which may progress to disorientation, seizures and coma. People should consult with their health care provider if their symptoms include fever, malaise, headache and confusion. Horses are particularly susceptible, and a vaccine is available for them. However, there is no vaccine available for humans – which is another reason why preventing mosquito bites is so important.
- Lyme disease
Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that is carried by ticks. Typically, symptoms are flu-like – but if left untreated, the disease can spread to your joints, the heart and the nervous system. Ticks are typically found in wooded and brushy areas, or areas with tall grasses or lots of leaf litter.
Here are some tips to prevent mosquito bites:
- Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus on your exposed skin and/or clothing.
- Don’t use repellent on children under 2 months old. Instead dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs and cover the crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, when the weather permits.
- Install screens on windows and doors and make repairs to ensure screens are secure.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from buckets, bird baths, barrels, flower pots and tires.
Here are some tips to prevent tick bites:
- Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants and closed-toed shoes when outside in areas with dense vegetation or tall grass
- Use insect repellent that is 20% to 30% DEET
- Keep your yard and children’s playground equipment clear of tall grasses, brush and leaf litter
- Check for ticks after being outdoors – particularly on the scalp, in the hair, on the neck, under the arms and behind the ears – as well as around the midsection, behind the knees and between the legs.
- If a tick is found, follow proper advice to promptly remove the tick
More from MIBluesPerspectives.com:
- The Rise of Mosquito-Borne Illnesses in the United States
- What You Need to Know About Zika Virus
- What You Need to Know About EEE
Photo credit: Lifemoment