THIS SUMMER IS BEING DECLARED A BAD ONE FOR INSECT BITES, based on a trend the CDC has observed in the past 13 years. “Illnesses from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have tripled in the U.S., with more than 640,000 cases reported” from 2004 through 2016. An organization press release on May 1, 2018 additionally states that, during the same time, nine new microbes were found either to be spread by ticks and mosquitos or to be introduced here.
The rest of the world has suffered from insect-borne diseases for a long time. In the US, the risk is a growing public health danger against which the country must become better prepared, the report indicates.
In 2016 those threats included the most common mosquito-borne viral illnesses, West Nile, dengue, and Zika; the most common tick-borne diseases were identified as Lyme Disease (caused mostly by the Borelia burgdorferi bacteria), erhlichiosis (caused by certain Erhlichia species bacteria) and anaplasmosis (caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum).
“Though rare”, plague (caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis) was the disease that most commonly was reported to result “from the bite of an infected flea”.
The CDC release explains that some of the increased risk for such diseases has arisen because the insects carrying them have increased in number. As a result, the vectors (disease carrying insects) have moved into more areas where humans can be bitten. An increase in overseas travel has resulted in more people becoming infected while away, who then “unknowingly transport it home”. Lastly, discoveries have revealed that some new diseases are transmitted through insect vector bites.
What can we do to protect ourselves from these summer evils? A New York Times article provides several suggestions on how to avoid being bitten.
Consumer Reports has ranked insect repellents and provided information on how much they might damage clothing that is sprayed. Although DEET is a synthetic repellent it has been proven safe over many decades and is very effective over longer periods of time.
‘Natural’ plant-derived substances are thought to be safer than synthetics, but may be skin irritants and could lose potency more quickly, thus, not providing sufficient protection when it is most needed.
This protection effort seems like it might be too much work. But life ‘hacks’ are created all the time by ingenious thinkers and tinkerers; check online often to stay current with helpful tips.
As long as shortcuts to protection aren’t part of ‘hacks’, it may be easier than imagined to keep disease-causing vector insects OUT of your summer.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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