Protect yourself from mosquitoes and ticks outdoors during the fall months

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Harrisburg — As people spend time outdoors during the fall months, the Wolf administration reminds residents to protect themselves from the dangers of mosquito and tick-borne illnesses. Pennsylvania has reported 14 human cases of West Nile virus so far this year, including one death in Philadelphia County and one death in Franklin County.

“Fall is a wonderful time to spend time outdoors and participate in many activities, such as hiking and viewing fall foliage, but we want to make sure people are protecting themselves when they go. are outside,” Acting Health Secretary and Medical General Dr. Denise Johnson said. “Ticks and mosquitoes carry a number of serious diseases. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and protect yourself from these diseases.”

Before going outside, it is important to cover exposed skin, wear light-colored clothing (to help detect insects), tuck your pants into your socks, and use an insect repellent approved by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can also treat your clothes with a product containing permethrin to repel ticks. These steps will help protect you from mosquitoes and ticks.

“Fall is for many the best time to hike with beautiful colors, clean air and fewer bugs, but many people are surprised to learn that there are ticks that remain active throughout. throughout the year,” said the Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). said Cindy Adams Dunn. “That’s why we encourage Pennsylvanians to remember to always take the preventative steps necessary to safely enjoy the outdoors and ensure the positive physical and mental health benefits of being active during the season.”

West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in areas of stagnant, stagnant water. These areas include city sumps, clogged gutters, discarded tires, poorly maintained swimming pools, flower pots, gutters and other containers that hold water. Reduce your chances of being bitten by an infected mosquito by eliminating standing water around your home.

Although mosquitoes can bite at any time of the day or night, mosquitoes that transmit WNV are most active at dawn and dusk. To prevent mosquitoes from entering a home, make sure window and door screens are in place and in good condition.

WNV can cause serious neurological infection, including encephalitis and meningitis. Symptoms of these infections include a severe headache, high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, paralysis, possible confusion and disorientation, tremors, and even death.

“At this critical time, we urge everyone to take precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” said Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Ramez Ziadeh. “Simple, common-sense actions can prevent mosquito and tick bites and can prevent the spread of diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease”

DEP’s vector management program will continue mosquito monitoring until the first fall frost. Around the house, habitat management, such as emptying standing water into containers, is always good practice. Tick ​​monitoring will continue throughout the fall and winter in warm weather above 40 degrees. The DEP recommends taking simple precautions such as wearing light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover skin and using repellents containing DEET or clothing impregnated with permethrin. Mosquito numbers will decrease as cooler temperatures prevail and frost will end the season for mosquito activity. Ticks will remain active all winter in warm weather, so always take precautions above 40 degrees.

Adult blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are the most common vector of Lyme disease and are the only active tick species during the fall and winter months in Pennsylvania. These ticks emerge in the fall and are usually active during the winter months on days when the temperature is above 40 degrees. In addition to Lyme disease, these ticks can also carry several other diseases, such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus, which have been reported in the state. Ticks typically thrive in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas, but deer ticks can live in any habitat and have been found in every county in the state.

When you return home, immediately check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Then take a shower to remove any ticks attached to your skin. Check your clothes and gear carefully and put them in the dryer on high to kill ticks.

Areas to check where ticks can attach are:

  • Under the arms;
  • In and around the ears;
  • Inner navel;
  • Back of the knees;
  • In and around the hair;
  • Between the legs; and
  • Around the waist.

Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a bulls-eye rash, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. It is important to know that a person bitten by a tick carrying Lyme disease will not always have a bulls-eye rash.

Most states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States, including Pennsylvania, see a second peak of anaplasmosis in the fall due to bites from adult deer ticks. Symptoms of anaplasmosis may include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you have symptoms of Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Antibiotic treatment in the early stages of Lyme disease can help prevent more serious symptoms from developing. If not treated quickly, Lyme disease can lead to serious health problems affecting the heart, joints and nervous system.

For more information on ticks and mosquitoes, visit www.health.pa.gov or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. For more information on Pennsylvania’s West Nile Virus Control Program, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Mark O’Neill, DOH
Wesley Robinson, DCNR, 717-877-6315
Jamar Thrasher, DEP

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