With the return of warm weather comes the proliferation of bugs, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks. Regardless of how you feel about these little pests, it’s important to remember that, as small as they are, they can pack a punch with some powerful diseases.
You’ve heard of Lyme disease and, perhaps, of erlichiosis. Did you know that there is another tick-borne illness called babesiosis? People who have had their spleen removed are particularly susceptible to a severe case. Aside from a tick bite, babesiosis can be transmitted through a blood transfusion and an infected mother can pass the disease to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. It can be a very serious illness to people with compromised immune systems.
As with other tick-borne illnesses, symptoms vary. Many people feel fine, some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue. There is no distinct bulls-eye rash like in Lyme disease. If you come down with flu-like symptoms, be sure to let your health care provider know.
Don’t panic – there’s no need to lock yourself indoors until it snows again. But there are steps you can take, products you can use to help protect you and your kids while romping in the yard. Pregnant women may be concerned about the safety of insect repellants during pregnancy. The insect repellant DEET (diethyltoluamide) is among the most effective at keeping insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, from biting. Preventing insect bites is important during pregnancy because mosquito- and tick-borne infections, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, erlichiosis and babesiosis may be harmful in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend any special precautions for pregnant women using DEET-containing products, when used as directed on the product label. You can minimize your need for DEET by staying indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite. You also can wear long pants and long sleeves. Remember, ticks are tiny, so check yourself and your children carefullly when you come indoors.
If you’re thinking of using pesticides around your property, be sure to read our information, including safety precautions.