First the bad news: According to CDC, the number of people getting diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites has more than tripled in the United States in recent years, due to warmer weather (potentially global warming). Between 2004 and 2016, about 643,000 cases of 16 insect-borne illnesses were reported to the C.D.C. — 27,000 a year in 2004, rising to 96,000 by 2016. According to C.D.C. about 300,000 Americans get Lyme disease each year, but only about 35,000 diagnoses are reported.
So, what do you do?
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.
- Wear light-colored protective clothing.
- Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Avoid tick-infested areas.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
- The sooner you remove a tick, the better. A tick needs to remain attached for 36 hours before Lyme disease can be transmitted, so remove any ticks as quickly as you can. Grab the whole tick by tweezer and pull it out.
· One of the first signs of a flea infestation in the home is when pets start scratching, biting, or licking themselves excessively. Fleas can also infest a home without pets.
· Prevent flea bites by keeping your pets and home free of fleas. Use flea preventive on your pets, and keep your home clean and vacuum pet areas regularly.