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Mosquitoes & Ticks

West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)

The risk of contracting a vector borne infection such as West Nile Virus increases during the summer months as mosquitoes become active. Taking a few simple precautions can greatly reduce the risk of infection and keep you healthy during the summer season.

Both West Nile Virus and EEE are spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that transmit EEE are most frequently found near freshwater, hardwood swamps.

Approximately 80% of those infected with West Nile Virus will show no symptoms and when symptoms do appear they are generally mild, resolve on their own, and do not require hospitalization. A small percentage of individuals (1%) infected with WNV will develop severe disease, almost always requiring hospitalization. Approximately 10% of individuals displaying severe disease will die from WNV. Symptoms of WNV include: headache, fever, nausea, body aches, swollen lymph glands, skin rash, and vomiting. Severe disease can lead to encephalitis or meningitis.

EEE is a very rare disease, with fewer than 100 cases in Massachusetts since 1938. There is no treatment for EEE; approximately 50% of those infected will die from the disease. The symptoms of EEE include: high fever (103°-106°F), stiff neck, headache, and fatigue. Symptoms generally appear 3-10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Encephalitis is the most serious complication of EEE.

To protect yourself from WNV and EEE:

  1. Use insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, as directed.
  2. Eliminate sources of standing water such as buckets, flower pots, and wheelbarrows.
  3. Avoid outdoor activity at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  4. Secure all windows and doors; patch window screens.
  5. Wear long sleeves and pants while outside.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. The tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more to transmit disease. The symptoms of Lyme disease include: fever, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle and joint aches, and a red, expanding skin rash (commonly called a "bulls-eye rash"). The rash commonly associated with Lyme disease infection occurs in approximately 70-80% of patients. Seek medical attention from your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.

To Prevent Tick Bites:

  • Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing.
  • Bathe or shower after coming indoors.
  • Conduct a tick check using a full length mirror.
  • Check hard to see places such as armpits, groin, legs, around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, and especially along your hairline.

How to remove a tick from your body:

  • Use fine tipped tweezers to grasp tick as close to skin surface as possible.
  • Pull upward with steady even pressure. Do not twist or jerk.
  • Clean area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
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