Vector-borne diseases (diseases transmitted by insects) in the United States are steadily – and in some cases, rapidly – increasing, according to a report released earlier this month by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
An analysis of data collected over the span of a decade showed that disease cases from tick, flea, and mosquito bites more than tripled nationwide between 2004 and 2016. While this increase is evidence enough of a serious public health concern, some estimate that the actual number of infections (including unreported or undiagnosed cases) far surpass the reported numbers. The CDC report also confirmed that since 2004, 9 new germs have been discovered or introduced in the United States, including Zika virus and West Nile Virus.
If you have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, you are already well aware of how detrimental its effects can be on the body. Vector-borne diseases can cause serious disability and neurological harm if left undiagnosed and untreated and can have serious effects on the body’s musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Symptoms can linger for months, and sometimes are permanent. In older populations and with young children the risks can be far more serious and can even result in death.
With the risk of infection steadily rising, taking precautions to reduce the number of bites you get is more important than ever before. Along with wearing clothing that covers exposed skin during peak hours, an effective repellent is a must. We recommend that you choose a repellent that contains one of the following: Picaridin (20%), IR3535 (20%), DEET (20-30%) or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30-40%).
But for those who are more inclined to try DIY repellents or natural bug sprays due to concerns over chemical additives, most important is to know that what you’re using actually works. Finding a repellent that is both safe and effective can be difficult, so Dr. Jane Marke has analyzed some homemade remedies and natural bug sprays to see what works best.
For those who are interested in natural solutions to treat lawn and garden, Arbico Organics offers a wide array of pesticide-free products.
After spending time outdoors, always check for ticks! If you find one, use this guide to see how to remove it safely.
Talk to your physician right away if you experience symptoms such as fever, joint aches, headaches or other flu-like symptoms, as these are also common to vector-borne illnesses.
You don’t have to sacrifice enjoying the outdoors, but you do have to be diligent in protecting yourself.