With the arrival of mosquito and tick season, the Ohio Department of Health is asking folks to “fight the bite” and take precautions to prevent mosquito and tick bites.
Doing so can held avoid diseases such as Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease.
In Ohio, ticks are usually active April through September, and mosquitoes May through October.
“You can take some simple precautions at home and when traveling to prevent potentially serious mosquito-borne and tick-borne diseases,” said ODH medical director Mary DiOrio.
The primary mosquito that transmits Zika virus is found in the tropics and southern U.S., but it is not known to be established in Ohio.
A “cousin” of the mosquito is found in parts of Ohio and may potentially transmit Zika virus. A type of mosquito found in Ohio can transmit West Nile virus and the state reported 35 cases last year.
Here are some tips to avoid mosquito bites and prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
• If you are outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, be sure to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes, and socks.
• Wear light-colored clothing, which is less attractive to mosquitoes.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered mosquito repellent and follow the label directions.
• Wear clothing and gear treated with the insecticide permethrin (do not apply directly to skin).
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
To eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home, eliminate standing water. Empty or remove water-holding containers, such as buckets, unused flower pots and bird baths and make sure all roof gutters are clean and draining properly. Keep child wading pools empty and on their sides when not being used.
Ohio ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, of which the state reported 154 cases last year.
Here are some tips to avoid tick bites and prevent tick-borne diseases:
• Avoid direct contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter and by walking in the center of trails.
• Wear clothing and gear treated with permethrin.
• Use EPA-registered tick repellent and follow the label directions.
If you believe a tick has become attached to your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, which can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” a tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from your skin.