Summer is about spending time with family and friends at the pool, lake or in the backyard, but it's also the peak time for ticks and mosquitoes which increases your risks for diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, West Nile Virus and chikungunya disease.
Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, director of the Tennessee Department of Heath Vector-Borne Diseases program, said the peek months for insects like ticks and mosquitoes is now through August...
Meanwhile, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner stated, ''We encourage Tennesseans to take tick and mosquito-borne diseases very seriously." He further stated, "With ongoing threats like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and new diseases like chikungunya emerging in the U.S., it's important to protect yourself .''
Tennessee Department of Health recommendations for preventing mosquito and tick bites include:
• Use insect repellants containing agents such as DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on your skin, following all label recommendations for usage. Pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children and never apply any of these products around the mouth or eyes at any age. Consult your health care provider if you have questions.
• Certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin is highly effective as a repellent. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated washing. Some clothing products are available pretreated with permethrin. Permethrin is not to be used directly on skin.
• Do not use perfumes, colognes or scented deodorants or soap if you're going outside, as fragrances may attract insects.
• Remember "long, loose and light" when selecting outdoor wear. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best, and for improved effectiveness, tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to form bug barriers. Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent bites through the fabric. Light-colored clothes are less attractive to many insects and may allow you to spot them more easily.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most prevalent tick-borne illness in Tennessee. Symptoms usually appear two to 14 days after a bite from an infected tick. The disease often begins with sudden onset of fever and headache. Early symptoms may resemble other diseases and include nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, lack of appetite and severe headache. Later symptoms may include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea.
''Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other tick-borne illnesses can have devastating effects, but are effectively treated with antibiotics,'' said Abelardo Moncayo, PhD, director of the TDH Vector-Borne Diseases program.
When it comes to preventing the spread of illness by mosquitoes, TDH experts recommend elliminating their breeding grounds around your home.
"It can be a small container that has collected some rainwater and a female mosquito will go there to lay her eggs and those eggs will hatch and you'll have a lot of mosquitoes from that container," said Dr. Moncayo.
Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, so remember to wear repellents when doing outdoor activities during those times. Search your entire body for ticks upon return from a potentially tick-infested area. Remove any tick you find on your body by grasping with tweezers and pulling straight back if the tick is attached.