Advice for Michigan Caregivers: Be On Guard for Ticks and Mosquitoes

mosquitoAs summer events draw more people outdoors, health experts warn Michigan caregivers to be on guard for ticks and mosquitoes. Older adults and those living with chronic illnesses are especially at risk because they typically have weaker immune systems. It is especially true of their risk for contracting the West Nile Virus.

Seasonal activity varies every year, but in past years mosquitoes in Michigan have been linked to illnesses such as West Nile virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), and ticks to both Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan with 165 human cases reported in 2013, an increase of nearly 60 percent from 2012.

What can caregivers do to protect an aging loved one in Michigan?

1. Encourage them to wear insect repellant. Look for brands with the either DEET or Picaridin as an ingredient. Lemon eucalyptus has also been found to repel insects.

2. Keep doors closed and make sure screens on windows are in good repair. That can help prevent insects and bugs from getting in to your home.

3. Report dead birds to Michigan’s Emerging Diseases project. That allows them to track the spread of West Nile Virus across the state.

4. If you have horses, make sure they are vaccinated for both the West Nile virus and the Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus.

5. Avoid walking near brush piles or in overgrown grass. Both can harbor mosquitoes and ticks.

6. Routinely check family members and your furry friends for the presence of ticks, especially after time spent outdoors.

7. Keep fans blowing around patios while you are outside to keep ticks, mosquitoes, and other flying insects away from you. 

Additional Resources for Concerned Michigan Caregivers:

  • To learn more about diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks in Michigan, visit Emerging Diseases
  • For specific information about mosquitoes and WNV in Michigan, including how to report dead birds and how to recognize the symptoms of WNV, visit the state’s West Nile Virus site

What do you do to protect yourself and others from misquito bites?