Spending as much time as possible outdoors has become synonymous with staying healthy, especially in the age of COVID-19 (as Americans are being urged to exercise out in the open air to prevent infection-optional). But the risk for exposure to vector-borne diseases caused by bug bites may increase.
Mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks can spread viruses and bacteria, including Zika, bubonic plague, and Lyme disease. Here are some dangerous bug bites to watch out for in the summer.
Of all tick-borne diseases in the United States, Lyme disease is the most prevalent. According to a 2018 study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of tick-borne disease in the U.S. and its territories more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, with Lyme disease making up 82% of these cases.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread by western black-legged ticks on the Pacific coast and deer ticks in the rest of the country. The ticks tend to inhabit wooded areas and long grasses. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause an array of symptoms, including arthritis, facial paralysis, and nerve pain.
Using data from the CDC, 24/7 Tempo compiled the 50 worst counties for Lyme disease in the U.S. Cases of Lyme disease are most prevalent in the Northeast, the mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest.
Ticks generally must be attached for at least 36 hours in order for the bacterium to spread. In most cases, transmission happens through the bites of tiny (less than 2mm), immature nymphs that go undetected on the skin.
Nymphs feed during spring and summer, so extra precautions should be taken when outdoors during these times. Precautions include wearing insect repellents, treating clothing and gear with permethrin, and inspecting your body and clothing for ticks after spending time outdoors. Here are 16 tips for preventing coronavirus and other viral infections.
To identify the 50 worst counties for Lyme disease, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the number of Lyme disease cases reported between 2014 and 2018 for every 10,000 people in the 3,143 counties tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD).
Population data was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey and are 5-year averages.