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These Bugs Do More Than Just Bug You

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors, but one drawback to warmer weather is the bugs that seem to be a constant nuisance. While it may already be part of your summer ritual to take precautions to avoid bug bites, it's more important than ever to be cautious.

That's because the number of Americans who were sickened after being bitten by mosquitoes, ticks or fleas tripled between 2004 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). During this 13-year period, more than 642,000 cases of illness were reported, with over 96,000 of them reported in 2016 alone.

The most common disease transmitted by ticks, mosquitoes and fleas during 2016 was Zika, followed by Lyme disease. Government officials point to higher temperatures and an increase in international travel as causes for the spikes in illness due to bug bites.

So what can you do to protect yourself from possible illness-carrying bugs? The best way to lower your risk of infection is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Bug-proof your yard. Get rid of areas where mosquitoes like to breed. Keep gutters clean and remove areas of standing water, such as birdbaths, baby pools and wheelbarrows. To lower the tick population in your yard, keep grass mowed and clean up areas of leaves and other debris. 
  • Wear insect repellent. Apply insect repellant containing DEET, IR3535, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin. You can also apply permethrin to clothing for added protection.
  • Dress appropriately. If you're going to be in areas prone to ticks and mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, long pants, socks, closed-toe shoes and a hat. Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants.

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Date Last Reviewed: May 23, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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