This holiday weekend, be on guard against ticks and mosquitoes

Jul 4, 2013

A lone star tick
A lone star tick
Credit CDC

  If you’re doing anything outdoors this holiday weekend—from camping to gardening in the backyard—you should be on the lookout for ticks and mosquitoes.

Public health officials warn that tick populations are booming throughout the state this season.

“We’ve seen a lot of tick activity increase in the last couple of weeks,” says Angela Minicuci, Public Information Officer with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Whether you’re in a grassy area like a park or out in the woods, ticks can be hanging around. There are two key ways to guard against them.

The first is to use the same safeguards as you would against mosquitoes--cover up as much as possible, and use insect repellant containing the product DEET.

Second, you should do “tick checks” before heading back inside. Minicuci says that means inspecting your skin for any of the critters--and look carefully, because ticks can be tiny.

“It won’t immediately attach itself, but you’ll see it on your skin,” Minicuci says. “And we want to make sure you get it off you before it attaches.”

Ticks can transit two serious bacterial diseases, Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

If the tick has attached to you, then you need to have it removed. Watch for a rash developing around the bite, and signs of illness like fever, aches and nausea.

Mosquitos are also potential bearers of serious disease. In Michigan, that’s most notably the West Nile virus.

In addition to usual anti-mosquito precautions, Minicuci advises patching up holes in window screens, and making sure any stagnant water near the house is flushed out regularly.

2012 was Michigan’s worst year for West Nile since 2003, with 202 reported cases and 17 deaths.

Minicuci says mosquito activity does appear to be down so far this year, with no West Nile cases reported yet.