With the much-anticipated warmer weather comes unwelcome pests — flying insects that bite — that seek to siphon our blood.
An example? Blood-seeking insects sometimes carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Here are two pests to especially avoid.
Mosquitos can carry a number of potentially serious illnesses. In New England, West Nile fever encephalitis has become a concern, and efforts are underway in some cities and towns to address the issue.
Nonetheless, individuals older than 60 and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. West Nile symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, and coma.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis has also been found in some New England mosquitos, albeit in much fewer numbers.
Some people bitten by EEE carriers will show no indications of the illness, but others become very sick. Early signs include brain swelling, chills, fever, and vomiting.
Ways to protect against mosquito bites? Clear away any standing water from around your home, and limit your time outdoors when mosquitos are most active (e.g., dusk and nighttime).
Moreover, wear long sleeves/pants and spray insect repellent on clothing, exposed skin, and hair when you are out at night (there are all-natural sprays available).
Finally, do not leave windows or doors open, as mosquitos will have a perfect entryway into your home.
Ticks are a concern because they can carry Lyme disease and co-infections like Babesia, and Bartonella. Unfortunately, Lyme disease is fast- growing in the Northeast and increasing in other regions, as well.
When Lyme is caught in the early stages, the chance for a full recovery is very good.
More often than not, the disease goes undetected because symptoms can mimic other illnesses. At the same time, testing methods are not always accurate, and this can also delay treatment.
Lyme symptoms are varied and often determined by the system or systems the bacteria are invading (pulmonary, cardiac, brain). For example, some people experience a racing pulse upon minimal exertion and others do not.
A circular rash at the bite site is often the first indication of the illness. However, not everyone with Lyme gets this rash or even knows about the bite.
Other signs include:
- Diffuse rashes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain (e.g. knees, fingers, toes)
- Neck ache or stiffness
- Brain fog (adding simple numbers can be difficult)
- Nerve twitching
- Eye changes
- Bells Palsy, and more.
Some ways to stay away from tick bites? Protect your skin when you are outdoors by wearing long pants/ tops, socks (tuck them over your pants,) and insect repellent (even spray your animals).
Also, avoid grassy or brush areas, accumulated leaves, wooded regions, and other places where ticks like to hang out in large numbers (sadly, some may even be sunbathing on your lawn).
A final thought? Perform body inspections when you come inside (even do this with your animals). Naturally, the summer is meant to be enjoyed, so no one should be afraid to revel in the warmth.