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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: June 25, 2012


Prevention Is Key With Mosquito And Tick-Born Diseases

Warm weather brings sunshine and short-sleeves, but also brings biting, blood-seeking insects. The Delaware Division of Public Health reminds Delawareans that simple precautions reduce a person's chances of getting tick-borne or mosquito-borne infections this summer.

The most common disease spread by ticks in Delaware is Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks. Ticks are active all year, but most cases of Lyme disease occur during the spring and summer months when humans enjoy outdoor activities. In 2011, Delaware had 873 confirmed cases of Lyme disease. Symptoms can include a "bull's-eye" rash (seen in approximately half of Lyme disease cases in Delaware), fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches. Chronic joint, heart and neurological problems may occur. It usually takes 24-36 hours of attachment before a disease is transmitted from a tick to a person. Early diagnosis and treatment, which may include antibiotics, are key to good health outcomes. Anyone bitten by a tick should monitor their health closely and contact a physician if symptoms develop. Other tick-borne illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichiosis are diagnosed much less frequently in Delaware.

Diseases transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito include West Nile Virus (WNV), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and several other diseases that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis). And while Delaware has not had a confirmed human case of EEE since 1979, cases of WNV do exist. In 2003, there were 17 confirmed human cases of WNV, two of which were fatal. During 2007, 2008 and 2011, one human case was confirmed each year. Approximately 80 percent of human infections are mild and cause no apparent symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of those infected develop a mild illness (West Nile fever), which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. A small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease that results in meningitis or encephalitis.

"We know that insect bites are not only annoying and sometimes painful, but can be dangerous as well," reminds DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "It's better medicine to prevent insects from biting you at all."

DPH reminds residents to take the following protective measures to avoid tick and mosquito bites:



DPH does not recommend the use of home remedies such as petroleum jelly or hot matches for tick removal. These methods do not work and are potentially unsafe.



Further information regarding tick prevention can be found at: CDC:

Further information regarding mosquito prevention can be found at: CDC:

For questions concerning mosquito control, please call Department of Natural Resources Environmental Control (DNREC) at:

For additional information regarding human disease, contact DPH, Bureau of Epidemiology at: 1-888-295-5156.

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.