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  3. Tips to Avoid Insect Bites and Illnesses

Tips to Avoid Insect Bites and Illnesses

Release Date: July 24, 2020

Did you know that vector-borne diseases account for more than 17 percent of infectious diseases globally?

Vector-borne diseases are illnesses that result from an infection transmitted to humans by blood-feeding insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.  Examples of vector-borne diseases include: Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, Zika, and malaria.

Vector-borne diseases are a risk in nearly all areas in the United States, especially during the summer months, whether you are in the wilderness or your backyard.  Some wilderness environments are home to a variety of insect species, and some species carry diseases that can become serious if you delay diagnosis and treatment.

Fortunately, you can take preventive steps.  In the case of infection, treatment is usually simple with complete recovery, especially when the diagnosis is made early.  For health advice, consult your physician.

Take simple measures to protect yourself and your family:

  • Wear and use protective clothing and equipment when you are outdoors (such as long pants tucked into socks).  Wearing light colors makes it easier to see insects on or near your body.
  • Use a chemical barrier on clothing.  If you or your family will spend long periods of time outdoors, treat clothing and footwear (shirts, jackets, hats, gaiters, and boots) with a product containing “permethrin” to repel insects.  This treatment will last for up to a month.  Clothes treated professionally against insects are effective even longer.
  • Use a repellent on skin.  Apply insect repellent containing “picaridin,” “DEET,” “citronella,” or “lemon eucalyptus” to exposed skin, following directions on the container.  Reapply every few hours.  When properly used, repellents allow you to live and work outdoors with reduced risk from insect bites.
  • Check yourself for ticks at least twice a day when traveling or camping in areas with woods, bushes, high grass, or leaf litter
  • Remove any insects from your body as soon as practical.  Removing insects within 24 hours will considerably reduce your risk of infection with disease-causing bacterium.
  • Keep an eye on your pets, too. Ticks and other insects can cause problems for your furry family members.

Use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents site to find the right products for you.  When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for everyone.

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last Updated: 07/29/2020
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