Mosquitoes, Ticks and Lyme Disease: Keep hungry insects from taking a bite out of your Summer

Mosquitoes and ticks are always the uninvited and unwelcome guests to every outdoor party and activity you are planning this warm weather season.

However, the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) wants to remind you to keep these pesky insects from ruining your good time by taking many of the proper precautions.

“Mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs so the first thing you can do is to ensure your property is free of any items that may hold water. They don’t need a large bucket full of water, something as small as a seashell or bottle cap can contain enough water for a mosquito to lay eggs,” says Ocean County Commissioner Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.

Mosquito bites can be more than just annoying and itchy. They can spread viruses that cause disease and ultimately make you sick. In New Jersey, the most common mosquito-borne diseases people can get from local mosquitoes are West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds or mammals carrying the disease. The disease is then spread to people and other animals by the infected mosquitoes.

The OCHD offers the following checklist of things you can do to prevent yourself from getting eaten alive by mosquitoes this summer:

  • Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels and potted plant trays at least once a week to eliminate potential mosquito habitats.
  • Drain temporary pools of water or fill with dirt.
  • Make sure windows, doors, and door screens are “bug tight” and there are no holes in the screens.
  • Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.
  • Replace your outdoor lights with yellow “bug” lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights. The yellow lights are NOT repellents, however.
  • Use EPA-Registered insect repellents when necessary and follow label directions and precautions closely. Do not use on babies under 2 months. Do not apply on a child’s hands, eyes, mouth or irritated skin.
  • Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin. Use mosquito netting over baby carriages and stroller.

Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Public Health Coordinator adds, “If you do get bit by a mosquito, the best thing to do is wash the area with soap and water; using a cold compress may help reduce itching and swelling. Calamine lotion or an over the counter hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itch works well too.”

While mosquitoes are the more obvious pest, ticks go about their work with much more stealth. Lyme disease is commonly known as the illness that spreads through infected tick bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.

What is Lyme disease?

Much like malaria and other vector-borne diseases, Lyme disease spreads when an infected organism (like a tick), known as a vector, bites a host. Typically, symptoms appear as soon as three days after being bitten by an infected tick and include the well-known “bull’s eye” rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

If untreated, Lyme disease can cause long term health complications including severe headaches, additional rashes on other areas of the body, facial palsy, arthritis, heart palpitations, episodes of dizziness, nerve pain and more.

People can be treated for Lyme disease with antibiotics and depending on the stage of the infection can recover quickly and permanently. But sometimes spotting symptoms of Lyme can be subtle and even go unnoticed, causing long term complications.

How can I prevent Lyme disease?

While ticks can be found in various locations across the Northeast, they are typically found in wooded areas with bushes, shrubs, and tall grasses. Part of protecting yourself against Lyme involves knowing the presence of ticks when heading to the outdoors.

  • The OCHD recommends using EPA registered insect repellents, wearing clothes treated with permethrin, showering immediately after being outdoors, checking for ticks daily including under the arms and in your hair and running your clothes in the drier for 10 minutes after being in potential tick infested areas.

The nice weather is here and people are looking forward to getting outdoors, added Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. “But before heading out just remember to protect yourself from these two insects that have the ability to make you ill or uncomfortable. Following these simple tips will allow you and your family to have a happy and healthy summer outdoors.”

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  1. Already got bitten by a deer tick. Thank God I noticed it. It wasn’t even itching or bothering me when I noticed it. I was able to pull it out correctly and save it in alcohol.

    After 2 days the area began to itch and a red spot with a barely visible bull’s-eye was at the spot. I immediately made an appointment at a walk-in clinic. They confirmed and prescribed an anti-biotic.

    That same day, when I returned home with the Rx, I felt something crawling on me. It was another one! I was able to corner it and deposit it with the other one before it bit me!

    Both of these incidents took place inside my house! All of us are always fully clothed when out doors so these critters must have jumped on the clothing and waited until I changed or crawled into bed.

    Always check everyone after they’ve been outside, including any pets that you may have. Get treated as soon as possible when you have itching and find red spots, even without the bull’s eye which can take several days to show up.

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