As summer approaches, Central Connecticut Health District (CCHD) encourages all Connecticut residents to take precautions to protect themselves against vector-borne disease transmission. Vector-borne diseases are infections transmitted (spread) through the bite of infected blood-feeding arthropods (vectors) such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Vectors can carry infectious pathogens (germs) such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that upon transmission become the causative agents of common diseases such as Lyme, Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, West Nile Fever, Zika, Dengue, and Malaria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the number of vector-borne disease cases from mosquito, tick, and flea bites have more than tripled in the US from 2004 to 2016, with more than 640,000 cases reported in the May 2018 issue of Vital Signs. In addition, nine new pathogens (germs) spread by mosquitoes and ticks have either been discovered or introduced since 2004 as evidenced by the recent outbreaks of Zika and chikungunya.
Within the US, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease, especially in the state of Connecticut, where the condition was first diagnosed and named in Old Lyme. Lyme disease is the tick-borne infection caused by the spirochete bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted by the bite of infected black-legged deer tick, Ixodes scapularis. In addition to Lyme disease, deer ticks can also co-infect hosts with human anaplasmosis (caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum), babesiosis (caused by the parasite Babesia microti), and Powassan virus disease (caused by the Powassan virus). Personal protection measures and regular tick checks are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of contracting tick-borne diseases.
Residents are encouraged to use EPA-registered insect repellents containing ingredients such as DEET, wear long-sleeved shirts & long pants, and buy or treat items such as boots, pants, socks & tents with permethrin when spending time outdoors. Upon returning home, regular tick inspection, identification, and proper removal is strongly recommended for family members & pets. Take great care to check your body closely, especially in hard-to-see areas such as under the arms, in/around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in/around all head & body hair, between the legs, and around the waist. Additionally, residents are also advised to control ticks and fleas on family pets through veterinary approved medications. Finally, residents are encouraged to take necessary steps in an effort to control mosquito, tick, & flea populations both inside and outside your home by installing protective nets/screens, keeping lawns mowed short, using approved pesticides, and emptying/covering items that may hold stagnant water such as pools, gutters, tires, fountains, and debris.
For more information, CCHD invites all residents to attend our vector-borne disease presentation to be held next Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 from 1:30-2:30 PM at the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library located at 234 Kensington Rd. in Berlin, CT (Register Here!). Additionally, CCHD would like to encourage all residents to bring in any suspicious tick (detached & bagged) into the Health District for laboratory testing. Visit us at www.ccthd.org, Facebook and Twitter!