As Arkansans plan to enjoy the outdoors during the summer months, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is stressing the importance of taking precautions against ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they can carry.
Arkansas has some of the highest rates in the nation for tick-borne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia. Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, Heartland virus, and other diseases may also be carried by ticks.
Mosquitoes in Arkansas can carry West Nile Virus and other less common diseases. Arkansans traveling within or outside of the country should educate themselves on the specific concerns ticks or mosquitoes may pose on their trip. Mosquito-borne diseases, such as Zika, Dengue, Malaria, and Yellow Fever, are more common outside of the U.S.
Some of these diseases can be fatal; some of them can also be difficult to diagnose and treat. Whether in their own backyard or on a trip, Arkansans should protect themselves from these diseases by preventing tick and mosquito bites. Tick and mosquito bites can be prevented in similar ways:
• Use an EPA-approved insect repellant as directed.
• Use permethrin on your clothing as directed.
• Wear long sleeves and pants. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. Tuck your pants into socks or boots.
• Check for ticks on yourself, your children, and your pets regularly. Remove ticks quickly and correctly if they are found.
• To avoid ticks, walk in the middle of a hiking trail or path; avoid tall grass and leaf litter.
• To reduce mosquitoes around your home, get rid of any standing water on your property. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a bottle cap full of water.
It is important to remove ticks correctly if found. Remove ticks with tweezers. Position the tweezers as close to your skin as possible and lift up on the tick firmly. Do not twist or jerk the tick or use home remedies such as petroleum jelly, heat, or waiting for the tick to fall off. These methods can increase the chance that a tick may transmit a disease. Just because a tick or mosquito bites you does not mean it carries a disease or that you will get a disease.
If you or your child does get a tick bite, be on the lookout for symptoms such as fever, chills, rash, fatigue, and aches and pains within the next few weeks following the bite. If you do experience these symptoms, it is important to see a medical provider quickly. Make sure to discuss the tick bite, where you acquired the tick and symptoms with your doctor.
Learn more about insect-related diseases at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.