How To Protect Yourself From Mosquito And Tick Borne Illness

a tick on skin

Fall is just around the corner, and while that does mean cooler temperatures, that doesn’t mean fewer mosquitoes and ticks. In fact, they can appear to be even worse in the fall. Sometimes during the summer months with all the heat, mosquitoes stick to the shade and to damp areas. But in the fall, more condensation coupled the cool, crisp air means mosquitoes and ticks galore. These insects can continue to be a pain until we start seeing frost.

Mosquitoes and ticks can mean big health problems for you and the ones you love. Not only can mosquitoes leave behind, itchy, red bumps, but they can spread some pretty serious viruses and diseases. Ticks are not only painful when they bite, but they can infect people with life altering health issues.

While you have probably heard of West Nile virus and maybe even about eastern equine encephalitis (triple E), there is a whole slew of mosquito borne diseases and viruses we don’t hear about quite as often. In addition to West Nile and triple E, mosquitoes can spread several other health threats like: encephalitis, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Rift Valley fever and Yellow fever, and Chikungunya virus. Chikungunya is new to the United States as of this summer. The symptoms of many mosquito borne illnesses are very similar to that of the flu and include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, fever and fatigue. Additional symptoms include joint swelling or rash. Keep in mind that while not everyone experiences severe symptoms, the risks are there.

Ticks are responsible for the spread of Lyme disease among many others. If Lyme disease is not treated, it can spread to the heart, joints and the nervous system. Common symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, fever, chills, headaches, muscle and joint pain and swollen lymph nodes. Some people develop a rash that looks like a bullseye and feels warm to the touch but not everyone. The bullseye could appear in a completely different area than a tick bite too. Lyme disease can often be treated with a couple weeks of antibiotics but in some cases, symptoms of fatigue, loss of sleep and muscle and joint pain continues. Like any other health problem, the sooner it is recognized and treated the less damage will be done.

The best way to protect yourself against mosquitoes and ticks is to wear insect repellent. The CDC recommends using one that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. Be sure if you are using sunscreen and bug spray at the same time, you use the sunscreen before the insect repellent. Some other ways to avoid mosquito and tick bites are:

  • When you know you are going to be spending time outside, keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Try to wear long pants, high socks, long sleeves and a hat.

  • Tuck your clothes into your shoes or boots when possible, or pull your socks up over your pants. This is especially helpful for preventing tick bites.

  • After being outside, be sure to do a thorough tick check. Ticks have to be on you for 24-48 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease, so check often. You should also take a shower or a bath as soon as possible after getting back inside. Don’t forget to check your children and your pets!

  • Try to wear neutral colored clothing and avoid wearing perfumes, colognes and lotions. Also try to avoid using smelly soaps right before spending time outside.

Some communities will get together to hire a professional to eliminate some of the mosquitoes from the neighborhood. While you can’t get rid of all of them, it can make a huge difference. You can also talk to a pest control professional about how to get rid of mosquitoes and ticks on your property. Call today for more information!

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