Insect-Borne Diseases Can Make Summers Bite
Summer weather usually has most New Yorkers itching to stay outdoors, but mosquitoes, ticks and other pests raise concerns over insect-borne diseases. NY1's Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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If there is one thing about summer most people dread, it is mosquito season.
"Over the past few years, the reaction's gotten worse. Instead of the normal, pea-sized reaction from the bite, I'm getting quarter-sized reaction spots," says allergy sufferer Adam Ferguson.
Ferguson's allergist says he is not the only one, as he is seeing more patients than ever coming in with bad reactions.
"This is one of the worst bite seasons I've seen in about five years. Hot weather, humid weather, a lot of precipitation during the mid to late spring, a lot of larvae. We're seeing lots of mosquitoes," says Dr. Clifford Bassett of SUNY Downstate Medical Center/LICH.
While some people might be getting some really bad mosquito bites this season, this problem is just more of a nuisance. What usually has doctors and health officials a lot more concerned is possible infectious insect-born diseases, like West Nile Virus.
With more than 40 confirmed human cases of West Nile in the city last summer, health officials conduct regular surveillance of the virus that is clearly here to stay.
It is also important to be on the look out for ticks, especially when heading outdoors. Most tick-borne illnesses are picked up outside the city, but the most common in the area -- deer ticks, lone star ticks and the American dog tick -- can cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), Lyme disease and other serious infections.
"Take advantage of the parks and recreational areas, but certainly while you are outdoors take measures to avoid bites from ticks and bites from mosquitoes. That comes down to wearing appropriate clothing, maybe long sleeves if you can stand it, wearing repellant," says DOH official Sally Slavinski. "The other big thing you can do with regards to ticks, make sure you do a tick check when you return or within hours after visiting a tick habitat."
As for those who have a particularly bad reaction to an insect bite or who think they have been exposed to something serious, it obviously cannot hurt to see a doctor.