Warm weather finally arrived, bringing with it cookouts, outdoor play, vacations and, unfortunately, lots of insects.
“Some insects can spread dangerous diseases,” said Dr. Heli Desai, a family medicine physician with Centegra Physician Care in Woodstock.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of people in the U.S. infected by diseases from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas tripled between 2004 and 2016.
Disease from mosquitoes and ticks range from mild to severe. The most common mosquito-borne illness in Illinois is West Nile virus, which can, in rare instances, cause paralysis and death.
In the Chicago area, common tick-bite related illnesses include Lyme disease, Powassan virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite from a deer tick. Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection, including fever, bull’s-eye rash, facial paralysis and arthritis, according to the CDC.
Desai recommends taking the following precautions to reduce the chance of bug bites this summer.
- Use repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET for protection against mosquitos, ticks and other bugs. “This is especially important if you’re out between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” Desai said.
- Consider treating clothing and gear with permethrin, a chemical that repels biting insects.
- Cover exposed skin whenever possible. “For extra protection, tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks,” Desai said.
- Do a tick check after spending time in high grass or the woods and remove any ticks you find right away.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have had a tick bite and are experiencing symptoms or have been in an area known for Lyme disease.
If you need to find a physician, visit Centegra.org/find-a-doctor.