Norwalk Reflector: Make sure you have bug spray; insect-borne illnesses triple

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Make sure you have bug spray; insect-borne illnesses triple

• Updated May 24, 2018 at 2:14 PM

As you go outside in the warmer weather, make sure you’re armed with bug spray.

Locally, and throughout the country, diseases transmitted by insects, such as Lyme Disease, are becoming a bigger threat than before, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

The CDC recently released a study on insect-borne illnesses showing cases of these diseases have tripled over the last 13 years. Among the illnesses of most concern were Lyme Disease, Zika and a new tick-borne disease called Heartland Virus. 

Families are encouraged to see medical attention, such as with with tick lab tests, at the if they suspect they or a loved one may have a tick, or one of these insect-borne diseases. 

Why are insect borne illnesses like Lyme Disease on the rise?

It’s no longer a regional illness. The recent CDC report shows diseases from tick bites have been reported in every state.

The study found more people are at risk because infected travelers spread the germs, plus commerce moves mosquitoes, ticks and fleas around the world.

The report shows more than 80 percent of the organizations created to control ticks and other insects need help with surveillance and testing to control the disease.

Why the rush for early testing?

When a tick latches onto your skin it takes 24 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme Disease to human host.

If Lyme is detected, you can talk with your doctor about treatment before you experience symptoms. According to the CDC, people treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of the disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

If left untreated, patients can develop a painful form of arthritis, as well as heart, brain and nerve problems.

Preventing tick bites

Cover up. When in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Keep your dog on a leash.

Use insect repellents. Apply insect repellent with a 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET to your skin. Parents should apply repellent to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. Apply products with permethrin to clothing or buy pre-treated clothing.

Try to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Keep woodpiles in sunny areas.

Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Be especially vigilant after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search carefully.

It's helpful to shower as soon as you come indoors. Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Showering and using a washcloth might remove unattached ticks.

Don't assume you're immune. You can get Lyme Disease more than once.

Remove a tick as soon as possible. Using tweezers gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don't squeeze or crush the tick but pull carefully and steadily. Once you've removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.

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