There are many things we think about when summer rolls around. These thoughts might range from whether our kids will go to summer camp, how late is too late for bedtime, when to schedule a fun vacation, or when to stock up on sunscreen. One all-too-common concern that we should also be having is how to protect ourselves and our families from bug bites. Although it may seem like bug bites are just an itchy, minor annoyance, they can sometimes be far more than that.
It’s Just A Mosquito Bite. What Should I Be Worried About?
The fact is that yes, sometimes mosquito bites can be just that. They bother you for a few days, you may want to put some cream on them to prevent itchiness, but they’re gone soon and you don’t have to worry anymore. However, the CDC recently reported that diseases from infected mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have skyrocketed over the period recorded from 2004 - 2016, with more than 640,000 cases being reported. More concerning is the fact that, while the disease rates tripled from 2014 to 2016, the rates almost doubled in the period between 2015 and 2016.
The diseases you hear the most about, of course, are Zika, West Nile, and Lyme, along with Chikungunya virus, and Dengue. The CDC is seeing this list grow as well, with new concerning diseases being spread.
What Are The Long-Term Effects?
Each disease can present with different symptoms and individual issues, ranging from fever and discomfort to even death, while some newer problems being connected to the Lone Star tick include developing an allergy to red meat. If caught in the early stages, long-term damage from some of these diseases, like Lyme Disease, can be cured. On the other hand, others, like Zika, can cause life-long birth defects if a pregnant woman is infected.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself And My Family?
The best way to avoid these issues and getting sick by mosquito and tick-borne illnesses is to protect yourself against getting the bites in the first place. That seems simple enough in theory, but you can’t spend your whole summer staying home and avoid going anywhere where there may be a high bug population. The CDC has a convenient tool to help you screen popular travel destinations to learn more about the risk factors for these major mosquito and tick-borne illnesses. Prior to scheduling a summer trip, you should consult this site to see if there is an elevated risk.
It can be easy to avoid travel for many people, but what about staying at home? If you live in an area that’s heavily infected by any of these illnesses, make insect repellant a part of your daily routine. Look for the following ingredients to make sure you’re properly protecting yourself: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-methane-diol, or 2-undercanone. If you know you’re going to be spending lots of time outside, especially near water or heavy foliage, make sure to bring your spray to reapply. In addition to repellant, make sure you cover yourself as best as possible with long-sleeved shirts and pants. Additionally, if you start to develop suspicious symptoms after getting bug bites, don’t wait to see your doctor, take care of it immediately to catch a disease before it progresses. At The Woman’s Clinic, we’re not just worried about our patients’ reproductive health, we’re here to help you with concerns regarding your overall health as well, so if you have any questions, please schedule an appointment to see us.