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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 255-9047, Pager

Date: May 23, 2011


Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans to take simple precautions to reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill due to tick or mosquito bites. Ticks are active all year and are commonly found in moist shade in wooded or overgrown areas. When carried on pets, ticks can enter the home.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis when they bite humans. DPH recommends the following protective measures to avoid tick bites:

To prevent infection when bitten by a tick, remove the tick promptly by grasping it with tweezers and pulling it straight out. Using petroleum jelly or a hot match on ticks is not effective. After removal, cleanse the site with antiseptic or soap and water, and wash your hands.

Tick-borne diseases may be treated with antibiotics. Anyone bitten by a tick should contact a physician if symptoms develop:

Lyme disease: Symptoms include a bull's-eye rash (in nearly half of cases), fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches. Occasionally, arthritis is seen in one or more large joints. Rarely, heart irregularities and neurological problems occur. In 2010, Delaware reported 657 cases. In 2009, Delaware had 984 cases - the highest incidence per 100,000 population in the United States. National data are not yet available for 2010.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever: Symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, muscle pains and appetite loss, followed by rash, abdominal pain, joint pain and diarrhea. Many patients require hospitalization, with a small percentage of cases resulting in death. In 2010, Delaware had 22 cases.

Ehrlichiosis: Symptoms can include fever, headache, malaise, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, joint pain, confusion and occasionally rash. There were also 22 cases of Ehrlichiosis reported in Delaware in 2010.

Mosquito-borne illnesses

The majority of human West Nile virus infections do not cause symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of individuals infected with West Nile virus develop a mild illness which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. A very small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease. The last human case of West Nile virus in Delaware was confirmed in 2008.

Because of its high death rate, Eastern equine encephalitis is one of the most serious mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. Symptoms range from mild flu-like illness to encephalitis, coma and death. Delaware has not had a confirmed human case of EEE since 1979.

Follow these procedures for mosquito prevention:

For more information go to: and

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.