Health Department reminds St. Joseph County residents to stay aware of mosquito, tick-born illnesses

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 5:39 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - As we enter warmer weather, the risk for contracting mosquito and tick-borne illnesses grows.

The St. Joseph County Health Department says we can’t forget about protecting ourselves from EEE, The West Nile Virus, and Lyme Disease.

There are a lot of different bug sprays you can pick, and most of them do a great job of keeping ticks and mosquitos away.

Brett Davis from the St. Joseph County Health Department says it’s the first line of defense between you and contracting EEE or West Nile Virus.

“Both of these diseases transmitted by mosquitoes are easily abated by wearing bug repellant or by site elimination. Both of which are ways that we can help inform the general public about those diseases and keep them from spreading,” St. Joseph County Asst. Environmental Health Director.

Davis says repellants with DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus also work to repel tick’s who could carry Lyme Disease.

You also heard him mention the term site elimination as a way to keep these bugs at bay.

“Because they breed in water and because they are so pervasive, they can actually breed in something as small as a soda bottle cap. They love breeding in tire piles, failed septic systems, some wetlands, and cattail marshes,” Davis said.

Davis says draining old gutters, emptying water that’s pooled in tires, flower pots, or bird baths, and fixing broken septic systems are ways you can remove breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.

You can defend yourself against ticks by wearing long sleeves and pants when in wooded areas and by applying bug spray.

Even if you do get bit, you can reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease by removing the tick as soon as you spot it.

“Luckily ticks do have to be attached to the body for several hours to transmit diseases,” Davis said.

While it’s alarming to hear these rare diseases exist in our area, the point of the health department’s round table is to make our community aware so we can avoid tragedies that come with these risks.

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