RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Ticks and mosquitoes are making a comeback in North Carolina.
Warm weather this week is encouraging to come out into the open.
With that will also come the risk for tick and mosquito-borne disease and bites. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported almost 700 cases of tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses in 2022.
NCDHHS is encouraging people to “Fight the Bite” by taking measures to reduce their risk of those diseases.
“Ticks and mosquitoes are everywhere in North Carolina and their bites can cause serious diseases,” said Alexis M. Barbarin, Ph.D., State Public Health Entomologist. “We encourage all North Carolinians to explore the outdoors but do so safely and take protective measures like using DEET or other EPA approved repellants.”
Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases can cause fever, headache, rashes, flu-like illness and other symptoms that can be severe, NCDHHS said.
The department also reports alpha-gal syndrome and southern tick-associated rash illness, or STARI, have been seen in the state.
Most of these diseases are diagnosed between June and September, and cases of Lyme disease accounted for more than half of tick-borne diseases reported last year.
Ticks live in wooded, grassy and brushy areas.
To reduce exposure to ticks, NCDHHS recommended the following:
- Use repellent that contains DEET (or other EPA approved repellent) on exposed skin and wear clothing treated with a pesticide called permethrin
- Check yourself and your children for ticks if you have been in a tick habitat and remove them promptly
- Reduce tick habitats with selective landscaping techniques.
The mosquito-borne diseases most often acquired in North Carolina are West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and La Crosse encephalitis, NCDHHS said.
North Carolina reported the second-highest number of LAC cases in the United States between 2012 and 2021.
Most mosquito-borne diseases reported in the state are acquired while traveling outside the continental United States, including cases of malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
To reduce exposure to mosquitoes:
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET (or equivalent) when outside
- Consider treating clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) with 0.5% permethrin.
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors and use air conditioning if possible.
- “Tip and Toss” — Reduce mosquito breeding by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths at least once a week
As part of the Fight the Bite Campaign, NCDHHS, local health departments and schools are promoting a K-12 poster artwork contest that uses illustration to increase tick- and mosquito-borne disease awareness in North Carolina.
Entries are due April 10.
More information on the contest can be found here. Winners will be announced at the end of April.