The Center for Disease Control has just released a new report that outlines the number of illnesses related to mosquito, tick, and flea bites in the United States. Over the last 13 years the number of illnesses have tripled. New germs have been discovered and the list of notifiable diseases has grown, but Oneida County Health Department’s Bobbi Kahl says part of that is due to our ability to detect new viruses.
"We’re just so good at finding that virus now because our equipment is just fabulous. Some of these laboratories can find anything at this point, and that’s why we have all these new viruses emerging. They aren’t emerging themselves, we’re just good at finding them."
Another factor that’s contributing to the numbers increase is likely the location or re-location of humans. More people are moving to suburbs where the ticks and mosquitos live. That exposure adds to the illnesses, and viruses being spread.
"There is no treatment for most viruses remember. An antibiotic you can kill a bacteria, but when you’re talking about viruses, the only treatment is usually to treat the symptoms, so if the person has severe dehydration you can put them on IV fluids and stuff, but you can’t cure the virus. Only the body’s immune system is going to be able to take care of that."
While there’s not many cases of mosquito transmitted illness in our area, tick related sickness is on the rise. Removal of a tick should be done with good tweezers, and done quickly. Kahl explains why those 'other' techniques are a bad idea.
"If you hold a lit match to it, if you hold a lit cigarette to it, if you cover it with something gross or essential oil, you’ve just upset this thing. Now it may regurgitate everything, all of its stomach contents into you. That’s what you don’t want because that’s where all the viruses and bacteria are."
The CDC recommends using repellent with 20% or more DEET, or applying permethrin on your clothing. Conduct a complete body check for ticks, and examine your pets as well. Finally, wash all clothes on in hot water or at least dry them on a hot setting to kill off any remaining ticks.
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