Health Department

Ticks and Mosquitoes

Ticks and Mosquitoes

Larry D. Jones

July 31, 2012

Summer is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy camping, hiking, picnics, or just spending time outside, but we can’t forget to protect ourselves from warm weather insects. The warmer months are peak season for ticks and mosquitoes. Both insects can carry diseases and viruses that can be transmitted to humans.

Mosquitoes are capable of transmitting diseases, such as West Nile Virus (WNV). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), WNV is spread from the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds carrying the virus.

Ticks on the other hand are capable of transmitting tick-borne spotted fevers and Lyme disease in Missouri. The CDC states that tick-borne spotted fevers and Lyme disease are spread to humans when a tick feeds on an infected mammal or bird, becomes infected and then feeds on a human. However, there are ways to reduce the chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes and ticks.

To reduce the risk of getting bit by mosquitoes and ticks, you can purchase insect repellant at most local home improvement or lawn and garden stores. When buying topical products with N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin, public health officials recommend using products that contain a 10 to 30 percent concentration of DEET or seven percent concentration of Picaridin.

It is important to note that increasing the concentration of DEET does not provide better protection, but it does provide longer protection. A higher concentration of DEET means that the product is best used for longer duration of time spent outside and lower concentration for a short duration outside. Higher and lower concentrations provide the same protection against insects.

Picaridin is an effective repellant, which is odorless and less likely to cause skin irritations.

Apply the repellants lightly on the skin and avoid applying the repellants on the hands to avoid the risk of getting the chemical into your eyes or mouth. This is especially important when applying on young children. Some other ways to reduce the risk of getting bit include avoiding time spent outside during dawn and dusk and covering up when you are outside. Mosquitoes are more prevalent during dusk/dawn, but if you are out during those times, cover up so your skin is not exposed.

Homeowners can take extra steps to reduce mosquito populations by following these simple rules.

· Reduce the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Do not allow water to accumulate at the base of flower pots or in pet dishes.

· Do not store children’s plastic wading pools outside when not in use.

· Do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths and remember to aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable, but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

· You also want to make sure that you clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

Ticks like to live in warm moist areas. By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of ticks in your yard.

· Conduct a full-body tick check (in most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted).

· Remove leaf litter.

· Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.

· Place a three-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.

· Mow the lawn frequently.

· Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.

· Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.

· Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

For more information contact the Independence Health Department at 325-7185

*Information provided by Center for Disease Control and the Independence Health Department.