Norwalk Reflector: Mosquitos, ticks and fleas — oh my!
logo



Mosquitos, ticks and fleas — oh my!

Zoe Greszler • Jun 13, 2019 at 10:00 PM

Ticks, fleas and mosquitoes continue to pose and ever-increasing danger recently. As the number of cases of diseases associated with these pests continue to rise, the health department said residents should take action now to educate themselves and prevent illness. 

“Illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016,” the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said in a recent national vital stats report. “Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time.”

 

Ticks

Throughout the state, nearly 40 cases of Lyme disease had been reported as of May 29. This number is minimal compared to the number of cases expected, based on data trends from the past decade. Every year since 2010, the number of reported Lyme disease cases has gone up — increasing anywhere from nine cases in 2010 to 2011, to a sharp 110-case increase from 2016 to 2017. 

Last year there were 293 in the state diagnosed with the illness.   

“According to the Ohio Department of Health, diseases spread by ticks have become more frequent in the last decade,” health department public information officer Jessica Colvin said. “The most common of these diseases include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF). 

Huron County Public Health (HCPH) is urging residents to take steps to protect themselves against tick bites while outdoors this summer.

One way to protect yourself from tick bites is avoiding areas where they live, Colvin said.

“Ticks can typically be found in wooded and brushy areas with high grass or leaves,” she added. “If you plan on visiting these areas, protect yourself by wearing permethrin-treated, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and boots. For the best protection, tuck pant legs into socks or boots and tuck shirts into pants to keep ticks from getting inside your clothing.”

Still, even with the best protection, a tick could still make skin contact. It’s important to check for the bugs after spending time outside. 

Showering will rinse off unattached ticks and provides an opportunity to do a full-body check, Colvin suggested. Areas of which to pay close attention include the under arms, in and around ears, inside the belly button, the backs of knees, in hair and at the scalp, between legs and around the waist.

“Don’t forget to check your clothes and your pets too,” she said.

If you find a tick, the public information officer warned they can be tricky to remove. Caution and diligence is needed.

Safely remove any found ticks right away by using tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin. With steady pressure, pull the tick straight up and out. HCPH recommends not using a hot match, cigarette, nail polish, petroleum jelly or other products to remove a tick.

 

Mosquitoes

In the past, HCPH has hosted an annual tire take-back day in efforts to reduce the number of places that could host a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes — and for good reason.  

Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy. The bites can spread viruses and diseases, some of which could be life threatening.

Maps released by the CDC indicate areas where mosquitoes are or have been previously found, and where the two types most likely to cause serious or life-threatening illnesses may be found. Ohio is among those most likely to harbor such pests.

One case of West Nile Virus was reported and confirmed in both Erie and Lorain counties last year. Two cases of Dengue Virus were reported in Richland County last year.

When it comes to prevention, the main way residents can protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases is by preventing mosquito bites in the first place and eliminating mosquito breeding grounds.

Huron County residents can protect themselves from mosquito bites by:

• Wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks.

• Use EPA-registered mosquito repellent, such as DEET, and follow the label directions.

• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.

• When using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and then insect repellent.

Colvin said residents also should eliminate mosquito breeding grounds to get rid of mosquito larvae before they become biting adults. Empty and scrub out any containers that hold water, cover open vents, plumbing pipes, or open containers (like trashcans and rain barrels). Regular removal of leaf litter and tall grasses/brush also is important.

Residents also should remove any old tires that may be lying around their homes. Discarded tires fill with water and their design keeps some areas constantly shaded making it difficult for water to evaporate. Even this small amount of standing water can be a perfect spot for mosquito larvae to grow.

HCPH’s annual tire take back will take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 22 at the Huron County Fairgrounds. During the event, residents can get rid of old tires for free. Residents must pre-register to attend. For more information and registration details the public can visit: http://bit.ly/tiretakeback2019.

 

Fleas

Fleas too can carry diseases, risking not just human health, but that of beloved household pets. Conveniently though, many of the preventative efforts for mosquitoes and ticks also can help protect the public from flea bites, Colvin said.

Simple steps can help prevent flea bites and an infestation of the pest.

• Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks.

• When using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and then insect repellent.

• Make sure pets have been treated with flea-prevention medication.

• Keep grass mowed and potential breeding sites to a minimum. 

“Taking measures to control fleas on (residents’) pets is another way they can help protect themselves from bites,” she added. 

Norwalk Reflector Videos