Take Precautions Against Tick And Mosquito Bites

Source: RLSMedia

With the start of the summer season National Mosquito Control Awareness month kicks in New Jersey with the departments of Health (NJDOH), Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Agriculture (NJDA) urging residents to protect themselves from mosquitos, ticks and related vector-borne insect diseases.

When infected vector-borne insects bite someone, they can spread illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Lyme disease. The best defense against these vector-borne illnesses is to avoid being bitten by these insects.

“A bite from a tick or mosquito can cause illnesses that can be severe for some people,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Individuals can take simple steps to protect themselves and to ensure a healthy and safe summer.”

West Nile virus (WNV) is the most commonly reported mosquito-borne disease in New Jersey, but Eastern Equine encephalitis (EEE) and Jamestown Canyon virus are also of concern.

Rarely, infections may progress and cause a severe neurological illness, which may present as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining covering the brain and spinal cord), or acute flaccid paralysis (sudden onset of focal weakness or paralysis).

“Prevent tick bites by wearing repellents, avoiding wooded areas with tall grass, wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants, and performing frequent tick checks,” said Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette.

“You can stop the proliferation of mosquitos in their yards by removing any standing water and covering any empty containers that can hold water for more than three days.”

Areas that may need attention include flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged rain gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, and any containers or trash that may be difficult to see such as under bushes, homes, or around building exteriors.

Contact with mosquitoes can also be reduced by using air conditioning when possible and ensuring window screens are in good repair.

Lyme disease, caused by bacteria carried by ticks, can cause a variety of symptoms and can be severe if left untreated. It is spread to people by the bite of an infected tick, and symptoms can include a rash that looks like a bulls-eye, tiredness, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, and joint pain. If left untreated, infected persons may develop arthritis and problems with the nervous system and heart.

Other common tick-borne diseases in New Jersey include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Individuals should avoid wooded areas with dense shrubs and leaf litter, wear protective clothing, use EPA-registered insect repellents, perform tick checks, and trim lawns and shrubs.

People susceptible to mosquito-borne diseases can also cause severe illness and death in horses and other livestock species. “We strongly urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals from serious mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis,” said NJDA Secretary Douglas H. Fisher. “We have found that vaccinated animals are less likely to contract these deadly diseases.”

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