Let the swatting begin

It's going to be a bad year for bugs: Protect yourself from the diseases they carry


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Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reported during the 13 years from 2004 through 2016. Nine new germs spread by mosquitoes and ticks were discovered or introduced into the United States during this time.

These findings are in the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is CDC’s first summary collectively examining data trends for all nationally notifiable diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea.

“Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya — a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea — have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next. Our nation’s first lines of defense are state and local health departments and vector control organizations, and we must continue to enhance our investment in their ability to fight against these diseases.”

The increase in diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea in the U.S. is likely due to many factors. Mosquitoes and ticks and the germs they spread are increasing in number and moving into new areas. Overseas travel and commerce are more common than ever before. Finally, new germs spread by mosquito and tick bites have been discovered and the list of nationally notifiable diseases has grown.

Protect yourself What can everyone do to protect themselves from mosquito, tick, and flea bites? The CDC offers this advice:

Use an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent (epa.gov), such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.

Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks to cover gaps in your clothing where mosquitoes can get to your skin.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Treat items such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

Take steps to control ticks and fleas on pets.

Find and remove ticks daily from family members.

Stay indoors when possible, especially if there is a mosquito-borne disease warning in effect.

Use head nets, long sleeves and long pants if you venture into areas with high mosquito populations, such as salt marshes.

Control at homeTake steps to control mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas inside and outside your home:

Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.

Empty and change the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential mosquito habitats.

Drain or fill temporary pools of water with dirt.

Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating.

Control mosquito larvae using the appropriate pesticide methods for the habitat

Control adult mosquitoes using insecticides.

Cover all gaps in walls, doors, and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering. Make sure window and door screens are in good working order.

Completely cover baby carriers and beds with netting.

Replace your outdoor lights with yellow "bug" lights, which tend to attract fewer mosquitoes than ordinary lights. The yellow lights are not repellents, however.



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