Over the past 14 years, vector-borne illnesses have more than tripled, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this is awfully alarming, there are still ways to avoid these pests and protect yourself.
CareNow® can help! If you or a loved one is experiencing painful symptoms of a mosquito, tick or flea bite, consider visiting our urgent care clinics for proper treatment.
What Are Vector-Borne Illnesses?
Vector-borne illnesses are those transmitted by non-human organisms, like ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, etc. As humans begin to interact more and more with nature, and therefore the insects that live outdoors, we run a greater risk of getting bit, stung, etc.
According to the CDC, nine new pathogens spread by mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or introduced since 2004.
Most Popular Types Of Vector-Borne Illnesses
Now that warm weather is here, it’s crucial that you protect yourself and your family from these diseases. Below are the most common types of vector-borne illnesses and how you can prevent them.
This common illness presents itself in the form of a rash surrounding the tick bite. Typically the rash is followed by inflammation as well. If you do not treat Lyme disease within a few weeks, it can result in a more generalized illness and possibly even neurologic symptoms.
Fatigue, achy and swollen joints, fever, headaches and dizziness are also symptoms of Lyme Disease. In severe cases, Lyme bacteria can also result in heart problems such as Lyme carditis.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Most prevalent in Tennessee, the symptoms of this disease include high fever, nausea, stomach pains and a splotchy rash. It is crucial that this disease is treated early so treatment can begin immediately.
This disease is commonly feared among pregnant women because it has been highly linked to birth defects. For those not pregnant, symptoms are typically minimal. If you are pregnant, it’s crucial you avoid areas where Zika is highly spread.
West Nile Virus
Because this disease causes minimal or no symptoms, it can be difficult to diagnose; however, in 20 percent of the population, symptoms will mimic the flu. The West Nile virus is usually spread whenever an infected mosquito bites someone.
La Crosse Virus:
This vector-borne illness is very concerning as it can cause brain inflammation or meningitis. Usually someone who is suffering from La Crosse virus will experience a fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
How To Protect Yourself From Vector-Borne Illnesses
If you are planning to spend a notable amount of time outdoors, especially during the summer months, it’s crucial that you take appropriate steps to protect yourself from illness-inducing insects. Below are a handful of ways you can keep you and your family safe from illness this summer.
- Never skimp on the insect repellent! Not only should you apply DEET to your skin, but it’s a good idea to spray the repellent on your clothing as well.
- Dress appropriately any time you will be in a wooded area. This should include long sleeves, long pants and long socks if possible. A hat and a bandanna may also be helpful to give you coverage when needed.
- Assess yourself when you return home. If you are able to remove a tick before it has been attached to your skin for 20 hours, you greatly reduce the risk of tick-borne illness.
- Standing water serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If you have sources of standing water in your yard (think birdbaths and flower pots), pour them out and refill them regularly.
- If possible, avoid areas with high brush where ticks and other insects typically live. Any time you go hiking, try to stay on the paths that have already been created.
- Stay inside! This may seem like the most obvious way to prevent bug-borne illnesses, but it is true. If you can avoid the outdoors, specifically during dusk, you will lessen your chances of getting a vector-borne illness substantially.
- Choosing the time of day you plan to be outside can also help keep you disease free.
Humans Aren't The Only Ones At Risk
If you have a pet, especially a dog, you should check him or her every day for ticks. Even if your pet only spends time in your backyard, they are still at risk of tick-borne illnesses.
You should also consult your veterinarian on options of topical medications to further protect them from the threat of disease.
How Do You Diagnose Bug-Borne Illnesses?
Typically vector-borne illnesses require blood tests to properly diagnose. In some instances, these tests can take several days to get back. However, if you are able to provide your doctor with your recent travel history (i.e. if you’ve left the country any time recently), you may be able to speed up the diagnosis.
Normally a doctor will want to know where you’ve been so that he or she can identify the type of insect that usually lives in that area.
For example, Zika Is prevalent in certain types of the world, which could help your doctor diagnose you quickly.
Can You Treat Bug-Borne Illnesses?
Most of the common tick-borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease, can be treated with antibiotics. However, the mosquito-borne illnesses typically do not have a specific treatment.
Because of this, it is common to treat the symptoms (fever and dehydration) of these diseases.
Are You At Risk Of A Vector-Borne Illness?
If you have been bitten by a mosquito, tick or flea, you are at risk of a vector-borne disease. Those who spend the most time outdoors (usually hikers, gardeners, campers, etc.) are at the highest risk of vector-borne illnesses.
By following the proper precautions, however, it is possible to avoid these types of illnesses completely.
What To Do If You Get A Bug-Borne Illness
If you believe you are suffering from a vector-borne illness, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even the diseases which can not typically be treated with an antibiotic should be monitored by a medical professional.
CareNow® Urgent Care Clinics
Consider CareNow® for your healthcare needs this summer. Open after hours and on the weekend, when a general physician’s office is closed, CareNow® is ready to offer you the care you need when you need it. If you plan to make an appointment with CareNow®, be sure to use the Web Check-In to avoid the waiting room.
Find A Location Near You
Urgent Care or Emergency Room?
Knowing when to visit our urgent care clinics or the emergency room is important to quickly access the right level of medical attention.
These basic guidelines will help clarify where to go for various emergencies:
- After-hour care for minor injuries and illnesses
- Cold, flu, earaches, sore throat, fever
- Sprains, strains, simple bone and joint injuries
- Cuts and scrapes that may need stitches
- Bites, stings, poison ivy, hives or rashes
- UTIs & STIs
- Physicals and other tests
- Suspected heart attack or stroke
- Trouble breathing, severe allergic reactions
- Deep wounds with heavy bleeding
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Head injuries, concussionsSevere headaches, dizziness, confusion, seizures
- High fever, uncontrolled nausea or diarrhea, dehydration
- Coughing or throwing up blood, blood in stool
- Suspected poisoning or drug/alcohol overdose
Nationwide Affiliation With HCA Facilities
Did you know CareNow is affiliated with hundreds of HCA healthcare systems across the U.S.? You can always rely on our clinics to quickly connect you with a specialist or coordinate a higher level of care with these facilities should you ever need it.