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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: May 19, 2014


DOVER (May 15, 2014) - Warm weather brings sunshine and short sleeves, but it also brings biting, blood-seeking insects. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans that simple precautions will reduce your chances of getting tick 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 during the spring and summer months when we're enjoying outdoor activities, people get tick bites and tickborne diseases more often than any other time of year. In 2013, Delaware had over 500 confirmed cases of Lyme disease (54.7 cases per 100,000 population) - one of the highest incidence rates of Lyme disease in the nation.

Lyme 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 disease is transmitted from a tick to a person. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to good health outcomes. Anyone bitten by a tick should monitor their health closely, and contact a physician if symptoms develop. Other tickborne illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis can also occur, but 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). While Delaware has not had a confirmed human case of EEE since 1979, cases of WNV have occurred. In 2003, there were 17 confirmed human cases of WNV in Delaware, two which were fatal. During 2007, 2008 and 2011, one human case was confirmed each year. There was an increase in 2012 with nine cases, and there were three confirmed cases in 2013.

Approximately 80 percent of human WNV 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.

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 Lyme disease and tick prevention can be found at CDC: www.cdc.gov/ticks
DPH: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/epi/lyme.html

Further information regarding mosquito prevention can be found at: CDC: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/prevention.htm For questions concerning mosquito control, please call Department of Natural Resources Environmental Control (DNREC) at: New Castle County (302) 836-2555
Kent/Sussex Counties (302) 422-1512 .
For additional information regarding human disease, contact DPH, Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at: 1-888-295-5156.

DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

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.