Summertime is often thought of as a time to sit back and unwind. With summer right around the corner, most people will get outdoors a little more to engage in activities they enjoy. Some of those activities could include cooking-out, swimming, camping, hiking, gardening, playing ball, or just sitting on the front porch. The weather will be hot and no matter what we are doing, if we are outside, we are exposing ourselves to mosquitoes and ticks. Both mosquitoes and ticks live by feeding on the blood of other animals and people. Their bites often cause an irritating, itching rash and they are known for transmitting serious diseases. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as Chikungunya, Dengue, Zika, or West Nile while ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and many more.
While outside, you can protect your health and your family’s health by doing the following to prevent mosquito and tick bites:
- Insect Repellant – use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered insect repellent as directed.
- Protect your baby or child by dressing them in clothing that covers the arms and legs and by covering their crib, stroller, or baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. For extra protection, treat items such as boots, pants, socks, and tents with permethrin, or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Permethrin-treated clothing will protect you after multiple washings. If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions. Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes and ticks inside your home. Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitoes outside. Use air conditioning when available.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes and ticks outside your home. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers because mosquitoes lay eggs near water. Clearing leaves, brush, tall grasses, woodpiles, and stone fences from around your house and the edges of your yard or garden may help reduce the tick population. Keep in mind that it is easier to spot ticks on light-colored clothes. If you think you may have a tick on your clothing, put your clothing in a clothes dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to kill the tick.
The Sampson County Partners for Healthy Carolinians Task Force wants to ensure all residents in Sampson County stay safe this summer by preventing mosquito and tick bites. For more information on preventing mosquito and tick bites, visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html or https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html.
Luke Smith is a public health educator with the Sampson County Health Department.