- Published on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 23:51
- Written by Super User
RALEIGH, N.C. - Spring, summer and fall are wonderful times of year in North Carolina, but with the warmer weather come those pesky critters called ticks and mosquitoes.
It is important to take the necessary precautions to prevent being bitten by ticks, which carry serious diseases.
“North Carolina is home to more cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever than any other state,” said Nolan Newton, chief of the Public Health Pest Management Section in the N.C. Division of Environmental Health. “Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and other tick-borne diseases can also be found in the state. Surprisingly, tick-borne illness actually affects many more North Carolinians than mosquito-borne illnesses.”
At home or work, reduce your likelihood of tick-borne illness by covering as much of your skin as possible whenever you are outside. Newton suggests that field staff: wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, tuck your pant legs into your socks and tuck in your shirt tail. A pair of tall boots that can be laced over the pant cuff military-style is also effective. For occupational exposure to ticks, permethrin treatment of clothing is the most reliable tick repellant.
“These steps are common, everyday steps you can take to prevent tick-borne illness,” Newton said. “Anytime you are outside, whether it is mowing the grass or touring children around a park, follow these tips. You can also use a repellant containing DEET on your skin or one with permethrin on your clothing; but be sure to follow the label directions when applying repellant,” he said.
Prompt removal of ticks helps to prevent infection. To find and remove ticks:
• Check yourself and your children often when outdoors and quickly remove any ticks. Pay particular attention to the nape of the neck, behind the ears, and the groin, which are favorite places for ticks to attach.
• Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel or rubber gloves.
• Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick. This may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick.
• Do not use matches, hot nails or other folk methods for tick removal. They will not make a tick let go and may cause the tick to release disease bacteria into the bitten area.
• After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
• Make a note of the date you removed the tick and see your doctor if you become ill after being bitten. Although generally not used for deciding if antibiotics are necessary, you can save the tick for later identification. Place the tick in a sealed plastic bag and put it in your freezer or drop it in a small container of alcohol.
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever may include sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by development of a rash. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include "bull's-eye" rash accompanied by nonspecific symptoms such as fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches.
Other tips for reducing tick habitat around the home include:
• Mow the lawn often to keep grass short, clear brush and leaf litter under trees, and keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
• Keep playground equipment well inside yard edges, away from trees.
• Remove plants that attract wild animals like deer and rodents, and construct physical barriers to discourage tick-infested deer from coming near homes.
• Make sure your outdoor pets are treated for ticks through the use of veterinarian-prescribed treatments.
• For severe infestations, ticks can be controlled with pesticides, but application should always be done with care and should follow the instructions.
For more information on ticks and tick-borne illness, visit the NC Department of Health and Human Services web site at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/ticks.html
“People need to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites and making their environments less mosquito-friendly,” said David Rice, New Hanover County Health Director. “Minimize unprotected outdoor activity at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, and apply insect repellent according to label instructions.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend several repellents against mosquitoes – DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. According to the CDC, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years old. Consumers should look for products that contain the CDC-recommended ingredients, and should read and follow all label instructions.
Exposure to both mosquitoes and ticks can be lim ited by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. People should also check themselves and their families for ticks when they are in tick-prone areas.
While rare in humans, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) can be serious and even fatal when it occurs. Approximately fifty percent of human EEE cases are fatal, with young children and the elderly most at risk. Therapy is limited to treating the symptoms of the disease because there is no specific cure and no available vaccine for humans.
The viral illness is transmitted to people by some kinds of mosquitoes after they bite infected wild birds.
EEE attacks the central nervous system and causes inflammation of the brain.
Symptoms can develop from a few days to two weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
They include rapid onset of fever and headache, followed by confusion, drowsiness, seizures and coma.
Limiting the areas where mosquitoes can breed around your home is an important way of reducing their
Ways to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and reduce the risk of mosquito bites include the following:
• Make sure rain barrels have tight-fitting screens or lids;
• Remove any containers that can hold water, even a small amount, including tires and saucers under flower pots;
• Keep gutters clean and in good repair;
• Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week;
• Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens fit tightly and are not torn; and
• Drain any standing water on your property that you can, such as puddles and ditches that hold water
for more than a few days after rain.
“The best defense against mosquito-borne diseases is two-fold – protection and prevention,” said Rice. “Protect yourself and your family by applying repellants according to label instructions. It is also important
to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by eliminating any standing water in your yard.”
Remember that horses and other domestic animals can contract EEE and West Nile virus encephalitis also, so it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating these animals.
For additional information regarding the use of repellents see these Web sites: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/RepellentUpdates.htm and http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/deet.html.
For additional information on mosquitoes, visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/arbo.html
Souce: N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.