Mosquito and tick bites spread a dangerous variety of fearsome diseases in humans, many of which can be disabling and sometimes even lethal. It seems strange given the ubiquity of mosquitoes and how commonplace mosquito bites are in many parts of the country during the spring, summer and autumn months that they could produce such health threats. Yet mosquito bites can produce the West Nile and Zika viruses, as well as yellow fever and the parasite that causes malaria. Additionally, tick bites for dogs can be a major cause of many issues, and it is important to monitor your pets closely whenever they have been in wooded areas.
Ticks, which are so numerous in wooded areas, are serious threats to campers and hunters because they can transmit a number of diseases, the most dangerous being Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which, if not treated, can produce debilitating joint, heart or neurological problems. The best option is to avoid, as much as possible, being bitten by mosquitos or ticks, though this can often be a challenge; however, there are a few simple precautions that can mitigate the likelihood of being bitten, and that can reduce you and your pets’ chances of contracting a serious health threat, and help to avoid the general discomfort of these types of bites.
Be aware of when mosquitoes are most active in your vicinity and take care to wear light-colored clothes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts if you go outside, especially at dusk or during the early-morning hours. The female mosquito is attracted by lactic acid from your sweat from up to 120 feet away, so always wear mosquito repellent outdoors and according to instructions. If a bite is especially bothersome, apply a used tea bag, which acts as an astringent. Place mosquito netting on the doors and windows of your home and be careful to use both mosquito spray and netting if you go camping in a wooded area or near water. Get rid of any standing water around and near your home (clear out gutters and keep tarpaulins and pool covers free of water) and remove old tires or accumulations of garbage where mosquitoes could breed and multiply.
People are most vulnerable to tick bites in wooded areas, tall grass, and underbrush, areas where you should always wear long clothing and cover as much exposed skin as possible. If hiking, avoid the temptation to cut across country or walk through thick brush, instead keeping to cleared trailways. If you suspect you or someone else has been bitten, look for signs of fever, fatigue, swollen joints, lack of appetite and tenderness in the groin or underarm areas. Apply an icaridin- or DEET-based mosquito repellent, paying careful attention to all application instructions. If you are bitten by a tick, remove it promptly using fine-tipped tweezers, grasping it as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick out with a steady, gradual upward motion.
Always apply insect repellent products in small doses on exposed parts of the body, taking care not to apply repellent on irritated, cut, scratched or sunburnt skin and always use water to rinse repellent from your eyes. Remember to reapply repellent if you go into the water and rinse off thoroughly to remove repellent from skin.
Protecting Your Pets
Protecting a pet from tick bites is largely a matter of prevention and an intelligent use of tick control products, such as a protective collar, as recommended by your veterinarian. Keep your dog away from wooded areas with lots of leaf litter and debris. If you detect a tick, remove it from your pet’s skin using the same method as for yourself. If your dog exhibits any overt symptoms, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Preventing mosquito and tick bites requires forethought, planning and preparation. Be careful about where you engage in outdoor leisure activities, dress appropriately and make effective use of mosquito and tick repellent.
We love enjoying the outdoors, whether hiking, camping, or just enjoying the sunset, but it remains important to be mindful of the protections and precautions you can take to prevent issues arising from insects and insect bites. From tick bites for dogs, to mosquito borne illnesses that can arise, it is wise to take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent any long-term issues for yourself, and your pets.
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