Editor’s note: Christie Clinic is a sponsor of Chambanamoms.
By Dr. Oyinade Akinyede, Pediatrician, Christie Clinic in Urbana
Diseases transmitted by ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes more than tripled to nearly 650,000 cases from 2004 to 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. The most common mosquito-borne viruses were West Nile, dengue and Zika according to the CDC. Diseases include West Nile, Lyme, Zika, chikungunya and a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of infected mosquitos, ticks and fleas.
Most of these cases are caused by ticks, which transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which are increasing in prevalence along with emerging diseases like the Heartland and Bourbon viruses. The CDC also reports the introduction of nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks.
Pesky mosquitoes are another concern with West Nile, Zika, dengue and other mosquito-borne threats gaining prominence. These diseases spread as mosquitoes expand into new territory and are brought home by travelers. Mosquito-borne diseases are infectious, unlike tick-borne diseases. The incidence of Zika is low despite the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in 38 states.
Warm weather brings out mosquitoes and ticks, which are most prevalent in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, including central Illinois. Many of these diseases are resistant to control. Getting control of these tiny creatures is a challenge. And because they are carried by wild animals like rodents and birds, it is difficult if not impossible to eliminate them.
Most bites don’t lead to diseases; however, ticks, mosquitoes and flea bites can infect you with bacteria, viruses, or parasites they carry. If you’ve been bitten, keep an eye out for symptoms of the illnesses they can spread.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you protect yourself and your family from mosquito, flea and tick bites by:
- using insect repellents that contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children
- applying insect repellents on the outside of your child’s clothing and on exposed skin. Note: Permethrin-containing products should not be applied to skin.
- telling your child to avoid areas that attract flying insects, such as garbage cans, stagnant pools of water, and flowerbeds or orchards
- dressing your child in long pants, a lightweight long-sleeved shirt, socks, and closed shoes
- checking your child’s skin at the end of the day if you live in an area where ticks are present and your child has been playing outdoors
- taking steps to control mosquitoes, (www.cdc.gov) ticks (www.cdc.gov) and fleas inside and outside your home
NOTE: Never apply insect repellent to children younger than 2 months. Mosquito netting may be used over baby carriers or strollers in areas where your baby may be exposed to insects.
If you experience any of the below symptoms after a mosquito bite or you are concerned about a bite, please see your provider or seek medical attention. Symptoms usually occur three days to two weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito.
- High fever
- Muscle weakness
- Vision loss
- Neck stiffness
- Disorientation or stupor
- Tremors, convulsions, numbness, paralysis
Mosquito bites can quickly affect your fun at an outdoor event this summer. Plan ahead and don’t let them ruin your time outdoors.