Early this spring I learned more about vector borne diseases and the Rickettsial family of diseases than I cared to know. Vector borne diseases, more specifically tick, mosquito and flea bites are on the rise according to the Centers for Disease Control, and they are no joke! Our 13-year-old daughter spent 6 days in the hospital in April due to what the infectious disease doctors thought was Rocky Mountain Spotted fever from a tick bite. They were never certain because all tests came back negative. Since they don’t have tests for all the diseases these little creatures can carry, they were never certain. In the absence of any confirmation, a small army of specialist including cardiologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists and infectious disease doctors ran tests and monitored her condition. Fortunately, one of the antibiotics they filled her with eventually did the job. She came home (with a little help from Bugs Bunny) with no long-term effects expected.
And today I read a report issued in May 2018 by the CDC that diseases from ticks, mosquitoes and fleas tripled between 2004 and 2016. Diseases from tick bites alone doubled. If you have outdoor workers or plan to spend anytime near the woods, the CDC report offers these tips:
• Take a bath every day and avoid using cologne, perfume and scented soaps.
• Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Not much fun in July! See the last bullet for a cooler option.
• Treat items, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with permethrin or buy permethrin- treated clothing and gear.
• Find and remove ticks daily from family and pets. Don’t assume since you only walked through
some grass for a few minutes that you didn’t pick up a tick. They like high grass and bushes.
• Use insect repellent with at least 20% DEET on exposed skin and clothes. DEET works by
making it hard for these insects to smell us.
Be sure to see the full CDC Report published in the May edition of Vital Signs. The July 2018 issue of Safety + Health magazine also contains a summary of the report on page 14.