Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: May 19, 2014
FIGHT THE BITE! PREVENTION IS THE BEST PROTECTION AGAINST TICK AND MOSQUITOBORNE DISEASES
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:
- Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to see ticks easily.
- When possible, wear long sleeves and long pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks.
- Apply tick repellants (check for child safety precautions before using on children).
- Check yourself and your children for ticks after being outdoors; pay special attention to the head area.
- Know that ticks can enter your home on pets (which themselves should be treated with tick and flea prevention).
- Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel or rubber gloves. Avoid removing ticks with bare
hands whenever possible.
- Grasp the tick close to the skin surface and pull upward with steady, even pressure.
- Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick since its fluids (saliva, body fluids, and gut contents) may contain
- After removing the tick, cleanse the site with an antiseptic or soap and water, and wash your hands.
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.
- Take extra precautions when mosquitoes are active, especially at dusk and early morning hours.
- When working outside, wear protective clothing such as shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
- Mosquito netting can also be used to protect one's face and neck, or used on infant carriages, strollers and playpens.
- Mosquito repellents containing DEET can be applied to the skin but will last only a few hours before reapplication is
necessary. Use insect repellent containing less than 50 percent DEET for adults. Use repellent containing less than 30 percent DEET
on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using insect repellents containing 10 percent DEET. AAP recommends
that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
MOSQUITO-PROOF YOUR HOME, HELP YOUR COMMUNITY
- Keep windows and doorways tightly sealed, and maintain window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
- Note that electronic repellents that emit high frequency sounds do not repel mosquitoes or other pests. Electronic "bug
zappers" do not control mosquitoes or other flying pests, but in fact kill bugs indiscriminately, including many beneficial insects
that prey on pests.
- Eliminating or managing standing water around your house is the best method to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your
- Change birdbath water every week.
- Regularly drain pet dishes and plant pot saucers.
- Regularly clean and repair gutters to prevent them from retaining water.
- Regularly check and drain plastic covers and tarps used outside such as pool covers, Jacuzzi covers, garbage can lids,
compost covers and gardening tarps.
- Store water-trapping containers such as wading pools, wheelbarrows and buckets upside down or inside shelters.
- Manage habitats in and around water bodies such as ornamental and retention ponds, ditches and catch basins:
- Manage weeds; keep vegetation short around water. Adult mosquitoes are attracted to dense, tall vegetation around water.
- Remove unnecessary floating structures or debris from ponds. Mosquitoes are often found around floating debris.
- Keep drains, ditches and culverts clean to allow proper drainage.
- Consider stocking ornamental or permanent, self-contained ponds with insect-eating fish, such as goldfish.
- Shape pond edges to a shelf or steep slope. Mosquitoes prefer shallow pond edges.
Further information regarding Lyme disease and tick prevention can be found at CDC: www.cdc.gov/ticks
Further information regarding mosquito prevention can be found at: CDC: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/prevention.htm
concerning mosquito control, please call Department of Natural Resources Environmental Control (DNREC) at: New Castle County (302)
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.