All Americans are rejoicing. Spring, the prelude to summer, is here. With the warmer temperatures, many of us are venturing out and about and enjoying the outdoors. We, though, are hosts for a number of insects that carry disease, and the ones that we REALLY need to watch out for have evolved a bit and are carrying deadly diseases.
Fleas and ticks, and, of course, the pesky mosquito.
Between 2004 and 2016, there were over 640,000 cases of disease spread by mosquitoes and ticks reported and nine new germs discovered or introduced in the U.S. in what officials are calling a “public health crisis,” the report found.
The number of annual reports of tickborne diseases doubled from 22,000 in 2004 to more than 48,000 in 2016 with Lyme disease making up 82 percent of all the cases in that period.
But officials warn that the actual amount of affected people is higher because many cases go unreported.
There are a number of reasons for the rise, officials say, from warmer weather to more people living in rural areas,
“There has been a steady rise in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “There has been an increased suburbanization of rural areas with more people living in the woods. There has been a change in climate. It has facilitated a year-round tick problem.”
There are also bugs that are now immune to insecticide.
So, how to help prevent bites themselves?
- Dump out any containers with standing water in the yard. These are breeding grounds for such bugs.
- Maintain flea and tick, and heartworm prevention regimens for pets.
- Use generous amounts of insect repellent.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, and hats, especially when in the woods.
Cleaning the house with hot vinegar water, and vacuuming will kill eggs, and, yes, a bug zapper can be effective in limiting the insects. (And entertaining, too.) Some essential oils are also effective in keeping bugs at bay.