Excess water from recent flooding means more mosquitoes, and more people outside means a better chance of getting bitten by creepy crawlies. The Arkansas Dept of Health says you need to be taking precautions to protect against mosquito and tick bites.
Arkansas has some of the highest rates in the nation for tickborne diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Lyme disease, and Heartland virus. 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 United States.
Some of these diseases can be fatal; some of them can also be difficult to diagnose and treat. 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.
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 if one is 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.
A tick attached to skin should be removed as soon as possible. This is important because disease will not transmit until the tick has been attached for several hours. To remove a tick, follow these steps:
Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If the mouth cannot be easily removed with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and wash your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Do not use home remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick come off. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible. Do not wait for the tick to let go!
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick. Just because a tick or mosquito bites you does not mean it carries a disease or that you will get a disease; many Arkansans are bitten by ticks every year and remain healthy.