Prevent illnesses caused by tick and mosquito bites
In addition to implementing prevention measures and social distancing strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reminds the citizens of Alabama to prevent illnesses caused by the bite of ticks and mosquitoes.
The summer months and social distancing practices mean more time spent outdoors and having fun in the sun for the entire family, but warmer months also bring unwanted visitors – ticks and mosquitoes. While most people think of ticks and mosquitoes as being only a nuisance, they can also transmit diseases, many of which can be extremely dangerous.
“Ticks and mosquitoes can transmit viruses and bacteria when they bite, causing illnesses that range from mild to severe or even fatal. While we continue to practice social distancing and handwashing this summer, we must not forget to take the steps necessary to prevent diseases carried by insects,” says Public Health Entomologist Savannah Duke.
West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis and Zika virus are diseases that mosquitoes can carry while Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are tickborne diseases that pose a threat to Alabama residents. According to State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dee Jones, “The best way to avoid getting a disease from a tick or mosquito is to reduce the risk of being bitten.”
The ADPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer the following recommendations for preventing tick and mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellents with ingredients registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) such as DEET, Picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children and do not use repellents on babies younger than 2 months or oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3 years old.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and use permethrin to treat clothing and gear.
- Make sure window screens are in good repair to reduce the chance of mosquitoes indoors.
- Conduct a yard inspection and tip or toss anything that holds water to reduce mosquito breeding habitats. Fill holes and depressions in your yard where water tends to collect and repair leaky pipes and faucets.
- Walk in the center of trails and conduct a tick check upon returning indoors.
- Remove ticks immediately and correctly. Visit the CDC to learn how to safely remove ticks.
See your health provider if you think you have a mosquito or tickborne disease. If you are bitten by a tick, save it for identification and testing. Health providers who suspect mosquito or tickborne diseases in their patients can submit clinical specimens to the ADPH Bureau of Clinical Laboratories. Visit the Bureau of Clinical Lab. On the home page, click “The Analytes Offered by BCL”, and then search under the “Microbiology” heading for more information.
To find out more about ticks and mosquitoes, visit the following resources: