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WDH cautions of disease risk from bug bites as warmer weather arrives

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CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is recommending people take some steps to help avoid bug bites as warmer weather arrives with the summer.

There are some potentially serious diseases that can be spread by insects.

“The reported case numbers from the diseases ticks and mosquitos can cause are usually not high compared to other illnesses, but we see some activity each year and the results can be quite serious for some people,” Courtney Tillman, epidemiologist with WDH, said. “Avoiding these insects and their bites is the key.”

Ticks

Potentially serious diseases ticks can spread in Wyoming include tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever, according to the WDH. Tularemia symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and painful lymph glands
  • Inflamed eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin ulcers
  • Diarrhea

“If the bacteria are inhaled, symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough and progressive weakness and pneumonia,” the WDH added.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever can include these early onset symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Severe headache

“Later signs and symptoms [of Rocky Mountain spotted fever] may include rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea,” the WDH said.

Colorado tick fever can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Rashes

“People can be exposed to ticks when walking through, playing or sitting in brushy and grassy areas, or handling certain animals,” the WDH said.

In order to help avoid tick-related illnesses, the WDH recommends the following:

• Apply insect repellents such as those containing 20% or more DEET and/or picaridin.
• Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks crawling on clothing.
• Tuck pant legs into socks.
• Upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, search yourself and children for ticks and remove if found.
• Check pets for ticks; use tick control products recommended by veterinarians.
• Carefully handle live or dead potentially infected animals such as rabbits and rodents.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes can spread West Nile Virus after feeding on infected birds, according to the WDH. While most people who become infected with West Nile Virus don’t experience symptoms, the WDH notes that symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes

“A very small number develop West Nile neuroinvasive disease with symptoms such as severe headache, fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions and paralysis,” the WDH added.

The WDH recommends people follow the “5 D” steps to prevent West Nile Virus:

1) DAWN and 2) DUSK — Mosquitos prefer to feed at dawn or dusk, so avoid spending time outside during these times.
3) DRESS — Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt outdoors. Clothing should be light-colored and made of tightly woven materials.
4) DRAIN — Mosquitos breed in shallow, stagnant water. Reduce the amount of standing water by draining and/or removing.
5) DEET — Use an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide). When using DEET, be sure to read and follow label instructions. Picaridin (KBR 3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be effective.

WDH

“We want people to remember the actions we’ve been talking about for years to help prevent mosquito bites,” Tillman said. “These steps can help protect you and your family.”

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