REASONS FOR THE INCREASE
“There are a number of reasons for the increase in more of these diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas,” says Pritt. “Some of it has to do with weather; it also might be habitat.”
“For example, we have a lot of deer, and the deer right now love our habitat that we have provided for them — our second-growth forests,” says Pritt says. “Instead of clearing fields for agriculture, for example, we have small groups of trees, little areas of second-growth forest in-between houses. That’s a great environment for deer and for rodents, and those happen to be hosts for ticks. So, it has to do with the hosts in nature, and by that, I mean the animals that the ticks feed on. It has to do with the weather, their survival.”
“It also has to do with human behavior,” says Pritt. “If we go out into the woods and go hiking, we’re putting ourselves at potential risk, and that’s something that we all like to do is go out and enjoy nature, which we should, and we should continue to do so. We just need to do it in a safe way.”
DON’T PANIC: BE SAFE
“I would tell parents not to panic, to take things into perspective. The diseases and the risks are out there, they are real, but there are things that are easily done to prevent tick bites and mosquito bites and thereby preventing disease. By all means, sign your kid up for that little league game, but make sure that if your children are outdoors and might get bitten by mosquitoes, for example, while on the ballfield, then they should have an insect or a tick repellent on them. If they’re going to be hiking through the woods, again, maybe have them tuck their pants into their socks. Do a tick check when they come in from the great outdoors. Make sure they don’t have any ticks attached to them,” says Pritt.
Pritt suggests parents educate themselves about what diseases are common to their area and to learn the signs and symptoms of vector-borne illnesses. “If their child comes down with a fever in the summertime, for example, that’s a sign of a possible tick-borne disease or a mosquito-borne disease, and then they can bring their child to the doctor.”
TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICKS AND MOSQUITOES
Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes by following these tips:
— Avoid areas where ticks and mosquitoes live.
— Use repellent with 30 percent or more of DEET.
— Wear clothing to cover arms and legs.
— Tuck pants into socks while hiking.