Not only are mosquito and tick bites an annoyance, they can cause severe illnesses with long-term complications and even death.


Because of the potential risks, state health officials are warning people to protect themselves from the diseases caused by these warm-weather pests.


Not only are mosquito and tick bites an annoyance, they can cause severe illnesses with long-term complications and even death.

 

Because of the potential risks, state health officials are warning people to protect themselves from the diseases caused by these warm-weather pests.

 

West Nile Virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, and an infection can cause severe and sometimes fatal illness. Many people who contract WNV develop life-changing complications after the initial course of disease. Some of the symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headaches, dizziness and muscle weakness. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors and paralysis of a limb. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.

 

Even though the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure are July through October, public health officials say everyone should start protecting themselves now against mosquito bites. In 2009, there were 10 cases of WNV reported in Oklahoma and one death. Ardmore was one of the state’s hotspots for the virus in 2006.

 

The City of Ardmore has already started its annual mosquito-eradication program.

 

“In April, we started treating groundwater in storm drains, creeks and other areas that tend to hold standing water,” Street Superintendent Don Olive said. “We’ll probably start our neighborhood spraying the first week in July. This year we plan to spray early in the morning.”

 

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like spiders and mites. Each year, Oklahoma consistently ranks among those states with the highest number of reported cases of tickborne illnesses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia.

 

Some of the symptoms of a tickborne illness may mimic other diseases. These symptoms include fever, headache (often severe), muscle aches, vomiting and abdominal pain. Other symptoms may include skin rash and swelling of the lymph nodes in the area of the tick bite.

 

Tickborne diseases can be treated successfully with early diagnosis and appropriate antibiotics.
In 2009, there were 494 cases of tickborne illnesses reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, including two deaths. So far in 2010, 15 cases of tickborne illness have been reported in the state.

 

The OSDH advises those who participate in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, bicycle trail riding, yard work and gardening to follow tick bite prevention precautions.    

 

Anyone who experiences symptoms consistent with a tickborne illness or WNV within 14 days after a tick bite, mosquito bite or participating in outdoor activities should contact a physician immediately.

 

Steps to prevent West Nile Virus

Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors and according to product instructions, particularly if you are outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite

 

Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed

 

Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily

 

Regularly clean leaves and debris from rain gutters to ensure they are not clogged




Steps to prevent tickborne illnesses

Wear light-colored clothes to make ticks easier to see

 

Wear closed-toe shoes rather than sandals

 

Use a tick repellent with DEET on skin and clothing according to directions

 

Hikers and bikers should stay in the center of trails to avoid grass and brush


Source: Oklahoma State Health Department