GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With warm weather ahead, mosquitoes and ticks are expected to come out in full force during the summer season. With them comes risk of disease or illness.
There are a number of things people can do to prevent a disease from a mosquito or tick bite.
Mosquitoes can infect a person with multiple diseases. Michigan has more than 60 different mosquito species.
“In Michigan specifically, we are worried about West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus, those are our two main concerns,” said Dr. Emily Dinh, a medical epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “When the weather is above 40 degrees you can expect some mosquito and tick activity.”
Mosquito-borne illnesses must be transmitted with a bite. The insects can be found everywhere but standing water is a breeding ground.
“They can be found in backyards, they can be found in woods, they can be found in swamps, they can be found in cities,” said Dinh.
Some mosquitoes are active during dawn or dusk.
The MDHHS recommends wearing long sleeves and said tucking in your pants will protect you more because the less skin you show, the less likely you are to be bitten. Ticks also won’t be able to attach themselves to your skin.
“There are also things like repairing screens around your home and dumping water containers around your home which can range from things like bird baths, outdoor pet bowls, almost any sort of water-holding container you can think of and this can be like, bulky toys stored outdoors,” said Dinh.
Triple E or West Nile can be contracted without much exposure.
“You can get a disease from just one mosquito bite and since mosquitoes are very sly and most often people don’t see mosquitoes biting them, that’s why I really want to bring home the message of protecting yourself from mosquito bites as much as you can,” said Dinh.
Symptoms for West Nile include fever and unusual neurological symptoms like struggling to find words.
Animals can also be bitten by mosquitoes and ticks.
“There are vaccines for West Nile and Triple E for horses, there’s not for humans. So again, on the human side, it’s very important to prevent mosquito bites,” said Dinh.
Ticks also bite and carry Lyme disease, so it’s best to carefully examine yourself and pets after being outdoors.
“What I recommend is when you have spent time in shaded wooded environments where ticks are present, after you finish your time outdoors, put your clothes in the dryer at least 10 minutes and that would kill whatever ticks are crawling on your clothes. And then go over to your bathroom and take a shower. That is the time to really check yourself for ticks,” said Dinh.
Most repellents are designed for mosquitoes and ticks.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency also has a tool to find repellents that work for you.
If you are bitten by a tick the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services wants you to submit a picture to their department. There are five most common ticks in Michigan and more information can be found here.