First Aid Handbook: Mosquito, Tick, and Flea-Borne Illnesses

A mosquito bites an arm
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We aren’t the only ones who enjoy the warmer weather – as you continue to enjoy your time outside during the summer months, be wary of the pests who might want to join you. Reports released recently from the CDC revealed that the number of disease cases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites in the US tripled between 2004 and 2016. While nearly everyone has received bites from one or more of these insects, the danger lies in the spread of diseases, such as dengue, Zika, Lyme, or plague. Between 2004 and 2016, more than 640,000 cases of these diseases were reported, and nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced in the US. Although this sounds concerning, educating yourself on these insects, the diseases they cause, prevention and treatment methods, and when to see a doctor.

What diseases do mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas cause?

The list of mosquito-borne diseases includes: Chikungunya virus, dengue viruses, varieties of encephalitis virus, malaria plasmodium, West Nile virus, yellow fever virus, and Zika virus. Lyme disease is the most well-known tickborne disease, but others include: anaplasmosis, babesiosis, spotted fever rickettsioses, and tularemia. Plague is the disease transmitted by fleas.

How common are diseases from mosquito and tick bites?

Diseases from mosquito and tick bites occur in every state and territory. Texas ranks in the top 20% of disease cases from mosquitoes (reported 2001-2016), with between 1,678 and 9,254 cases reported during the reporting period. Disease cases from ticks during the same period in Texas number in the 3rd 20% of total (1,099-2,140).

How can I keep from getting one of these diseases?

There are several common-sense things everyone can do to prevent – or at least lower the likelihood of – contracting diseases from one of these insects:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellant.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
  • Treat items used outdoors such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin, or buy permethrin-treated items.
  • Control ticks and fleas on pets.
  • Check family and pets daily for ticks and remove when present. Click here or more information.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home.

Want to do more?

  • Help inform family and friends about how to protect themselves from diseases resulting from an infective mosquito, tick, or flea bite.
  • Support state and local government agencies which test and track germs and the mosquitoes and ticks that spread them.
  • Support programs within local governments which seek to control insects through destruction of habitat, spraying program, and other methods.

If you do contract a disease from one of these pesky insects, you can always stop by your local Integrity Urgent Care in Bryan/College Station, Copperas Cove, and soon Athens, for evaluation and treatment. For more information, feel free to contact us at (979) 703-1832.

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