From the Department of Health and Human Services of North Carolina. . .
With summer fast approaching and people spending more time outdoors, it is important for everyone to take precautions against tick and mosquito bites. Tick and mosquito borne infections cause illnesses and deaths in North Carolina each year, with more than 800 cases reported in 2013.
To encourage awareness of this issue, Governor McCrory recently proclaimed April 2014 as “Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month” in North Carolina.
“Ticks and mosquitoes are very common in our state, and they can carry germs that cause serious infections,” said Carl Williams, DHHS’ State Public Health Veterinarian. “The good news is that many of these infections can be prevented by following some basic control measures.”
Tick borne diseases in North Carolina include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis. These diseases are diagnosed from all regions of the state and can be acquired at any time of year. However, the vast majority of infections occur in the months of June through September.
Mosquito borne diseases are less common than tick borne illness, but severe infections due to LaCrosse virus and West Nile virus are reported every year, including cases of encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.
The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages the following activities to help protect against illness caused by ticks and mosquitoes:
- Avoid tick habitat, which includes wooded, grassy or brushy areas and wear repellents
- If you find a tick attached to your body, carefully remove it by grasping the tick with fine tipped tweezers as close as possible to your skin and apply a steady gentle pressure until it releases.
- Use a mosquito repellent when you are outside and exposed to mosquitoes.
- Mosquito proof your home by installing or repairing screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside and use air conditioning if you have it.
- Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.
While it is not possible to prevent all cases of tick and mosquito borne illness, you can greatly reduce your risk by following these basic control measures.
“It is a great time to enjoy North Carolina outdoors,” said Williams. “Just be mindful to take the appropriate steps to protect yourself and your family.”
For more information about tick and mosquito borne infections, visit http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/vector.html.