According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of disease cases from mosquito, tick and flea bites has more than tripled from 2004 to 2016.
Additionally, nine new germs spread by mosquitos and ticks have been discovered since 2004.
Insect-borne illnesses include:
West Nile virus
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Only one in five people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will develop symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Body aches
- Fatigue and weakness
- Joint pain
Less than 1% of people who are infected with the West Nile virus develop life-threatening neurological symptoms. Learn more about the West Nile virus from the CDC.
Zika virus primarily spreads through the bite of an infected mosquito of a certain species, known as Aedes. Zika can also spread from mother to child through pregnancy and can be transmitted through sexual activity. Symptoms of Zika virus can include:
- Joint pain
- Red eyes (conjunctivitis)
Learn more about the Zika virus from the CDC.
The Chikungunya virus is also spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people infected with the Chikungunya virus develop symptoms three to seven days after being bitten. These symptoms can include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Muscle pain
Learn more about the Chikungunya virus from the CDC.
Lyme disease is the most common insect-borne illness in the United States, and it is transmitted by ticks. If not properly diagnosed and treated, Lyme disease can lead to serious, long-term complications affecting the heart, joints and nervous system. The first symptoms of being bitten by a tick carrying this illness typically appear three to 30 days after the bites, and can include:
- Muscle and joint aches
- Warm rash at the site of the tick
- Swollen lymph nodes
Learn more about Lyme disease from the CDC.
Ways to prevent insect bites
Texas has the third-highest amount of mosquito-borne disease cases in the U.S. Take precautions to minimize your family’s risk:
- Always use insect repellent when spending time outdoors.
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants when in wooded or grassy areas.
- Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
- Take steps to control ticks and fleas on household pets.
- Use air conditioning when possible and repair any holes in window screens to keep bugs outside.
- Empty or cover outdoor items that collect standing water.
If your child experiences any unusual symptoms after a bug bite – such as fever, headache, rash, fatigue, or joint and muscle pain – contact a pediatrician.
See how to treat bug bites and stings in children for tips on how to care for your child at home and when to call the doctor.
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