Spring, summer and fall are wonderful times of year in North Carolina, but with the warm weather come pesky ticks and mosquitoes. The health department wants you to remember the easy ways to 'Fight the Bite’ from ticks and mosquitoes while enjoying the outdoors.
Ticks and mosquitoes are more than just nuisances. Some carry germs that can make people seriously ill. In 2010 , North Carolina reported more than 450 cases of tick-borne diseases to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most were spotted fever-type illnesses, which include Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
To reduce mosquito bites:
Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks
- Remove containers holding water to prevent mosquito breeding grounds
- Keep playground equipment away from yard edges and out from under trees
To reduce tick bites and illness:
- Wear light colored clothing to spot ticks easier
- Prompt removal of ticks lessens the likelihood of infection
- Cover as much of your skin as possible
- Tuck you pant legs into your socks and tuck in your shirt tail
- Use a repellant containing DEET or permethrin (Follow directions when using repellant)
- Treat pets' kennels and indoor bedding for ticks (Talk to your vet about the best products)
To reduce tick habitats:
- Keep grass short
- Remove plants that attract animals such as deer and rodents
- Reduce leaf litter under trees to decrease humidity and reduce breeding sites
- Talk to your vet about treatments for your pets
- Reduce shade in your yard and move play equipment to sunny areas
- Use gravel or other dry mulches to keep ticks from traveling into well-used areas
Remember, prompt tick removal helps prevents infection
- Check yourself, your children and your pets at least every six hours. Quickly remove any ticks. Pay particular attention to the nape of the neck, behind the ears, and the groin, which are favorite places for ticks to attach.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves.
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick.
- After removal, disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water.
- Note the date you removed the tick and save it in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make a correct diagnosis. Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer or drop it in a small container of alcohol.
- If you have any signs or symptoms of tick-borne disease in the month following a bite, get medical help. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever include sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by development of rash. Symptoms of Lyme disease include "bull's-eye" rash accompanied by nonspecific symptoms such as fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and joint aches.
How can I find more information?
- West Nile Virus
- NC DHHS Epidemiology Section
- Centers for Disease Control - Stop Ticks
- NC Cooperative Extention
- TIC - NC