ANDOVER — As the warmer weather sets in, Director of Public Health Thomas Carbone wishes to remind residents of important safety tips to avoid mosquito and tick bites.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), mosquito bites in the state typically result in skin irritation and itching. However, serious viruses including West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) are also spread by mosquitos in rare instances.
The DPH reports since EEE was first detected in the state in 1938, there have been approximately 110 cases and the most recent outbreak began in 2019. There have been six deaths associated with that outbreak.
Further, residents are reminded to take care to prevent tick bites, as some ticks may carry diseases including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi and Powassan virus. The majority of tick-borne diseases are contracted in June through August, according to the DPH.
“You are exposed to ticks even if you’re just in your backyard, gardening or taking your dog for a walk, and now we’re entering mosquito season as well. It’s important to check for ticks after time outdoors, and to take steps to prevent bites from these insects,” Director of Public Health Carbone said. “We encourage residents to review the following steps, and wish everyone a safe and healthy summer.”
The Town of Andover is part of the Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control District, a state agency that provides mosquito control activities to 36 communities in the region. Each town works collaboratively with the Mosquito Control District to identify response plans.
The Town of Andover wishes to share the following tips from the CDC, which can be used to prevent both mosquito and tick bites:
- Utilize insect repellents that are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and have one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed and follow instructions outlined on the label of the product you are using.
- Apply sunscreen first and insect repellant second.
- Do not apply insect repellant on the skin beneath clothing.
- Parents, guardians and caregivers of babies and children are advised to:
- Dress children in long layers to cover their arms and legs.
- Use mosquito netting to cover strollers and baby carriers outdoors.
- Remember, when using insect repellant on a child:
- Follow instructions on the label.
- Never use products that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children under 3-years-old.
- NEVER apply insect repellant on a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts or irritated skin.
- To apply insect repellant to a child’s face, carefully spray it onto your hands and apply it to the skin.
- Consider buying permethrin-treated clothing and gear, or using permethrin to treat your clothing and gear.
- Wear long sleeved shirts and pants.
Residents are also advised to prepare their homes and properties to prevent mosquitos from laying their eggs in the area, and to prevent insects from getting indoors. This can be done by maintaining screens and doors properly and repairing any holes, utilizing air conditioning where possible, and regularly checking your property for standing water and clearing it out. Mosquitos are known to lay their eggs in and around water.
The Town of Andover also wishes to share the following tips for tick bite prevention specifically from the CDC:
- Know where you may come into contact with ticks so that you can be vigilant and check your skin afterward. Ticks live in grassy, bushy, or wooded areas and can also be found on animals. You can get a tick walking your dog, camping, gardening, hunting, in your neighborhood or in your backyard.
- Walk in the center of trails where possible and avoid wooded areas with high grass and litter.
- Check your clothing and skin for ticks after being outside. When checking your body, be sure to look for ticks in the following areas:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
- To kill ticks that may be on clothing, tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. If the clothes need to be washed first, it is recommended they be washed with hot water.
- After being outdoors, examine gear and pets for ticks.
- Residents are advised to shower within two hours of being outdoors.
For more tick bite prevention tips from the CDC click here and for more mosquito bite prevention tips click here.