Disease Carrying Insects to Watch Out For in Our Neighborhood

By Sen Speroff

Ticks & Lyme Disease in Oregon

Yes, it is named after the community of Old Lyme in Connecticut where it was first reported, but Lyme disease has spread to Oregon with the number of cases growing each year. Certain ticks pick up the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria from biting infected deer and rodents. In tick-infested areas, the highest risk of bites is probably between March and September. If diagnosed in the early stages, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Without treatment, complications can occur involving joints, heart, and nervous system and can lead to long-term problems. 

Most people who are bitten by a tick do not get the disease, but nevertheless they should be watchful for 30 days. You should call your health care provider if you have a rash that looks like a bull’s eye, had a tick bite and develop weakness, numbness, or tingling, or heart problems. For prevention, when walking or hiking in wooded or grassy areas, spray all exposed skin and your clothing with insect repellant, wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants with cuffs tucked into shoes or socks, check yourself and your pets frequently during and after being outdoors, thoroughly inspecting all skin surface areas.

The CDC recommends removing a tick from your skin by using fine-tipped tweezers. Place tweezers as close to the skin as possible, then pull upward with steady even pressure.  Avoid twisting, jerking, or crushing the body of the tick. If the mouth parts break off and remain in the skin, remove the mouth parts will tweezers. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. The risk of infection increases with the time the tick is attached, and if a tick is attached for less than 24 hours, infection is less likely.

Sources:
CDC:
http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/index.html
http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html
ODH:
http://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/CommunicableDisease/ReportingCommunicableDisease/ReportingGuidelines/Documents/lyme.pdf

Mosquitoes

Of the 200 species of mosquitoes in the United States, about 25 inhabit Multnomah County. Six years ago the rock-pool mosquito (Ochlerotatus japonicas) was discovered in Multnomah County in St. Johns in a water-filled bucket of a loader.  Since their discovery, their territory has expanded. This Asian native is an aggressive biter all day instead of just the dusk-to-dawn biting behavior of most mosquitoes. To make matters worse, they are believed to be carriers of dengue fever, West Nile virus, and encephalitis. They are usually found from June through October in natural and artificial areas such as holes in trees, rain puddles, wood piles, bird baths, discarded tires, and areas with poor drainage. A single female can lay 300 eggs at a time. They can lie dormant in a tire, bucket or roof gutter until water and temperatures are ideal for hatching. Even a small water-filled bucket can house 1,000 mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes like quiet water, nighttime temperatures in the 50s and sustained daytime temperatures in the 70s or higher.

It is important for people to follow these few simple steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and biting:

  • Remove standing water from around homes and places of work.
  • Dispose of items around your property that collect water. Breeding sites are not always obvious and may be areas of standing water in a bird bath or flower pot. These sites may produce hundreds of new mosquitoes each day.
  • Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating fish.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor spas, saunas and hot tubs; keep them covered when not in use.
  • Clean out clogged gutters.
  • Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites, especially weeds and tall grass.
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET when outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends repellents that contain the chemical picaridin.
  • Protect yourself with long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks when you are outdoors during times that mosquitoes are most active.

Sources:
http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/06/oregon_insect_experts_keep_an.html
http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0622a.pdf?ga=t

(Skyline Ridge Runner, April 2012)