TRENTON, N.J. - Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes warned those gearing up for the warm summer months that they could be at a higher risk than usual for contracting Lyme disease this year as a result of the mild winter and other environmental factors, according to research from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.
Ticks feed as larvae, nymphs and adults, and the May to July nymph season will be especially dangerous because it is a time of year when many people head to the woods and ticks often go unnoticed.
“The weather has warmed up beautifully and everyone is feeling the carefree summer spirit,” said Hughes. “Unfortunately, ticks and mosquitoes have also enjoyed our mild winter, leaving Mercer County residents at a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease. Simple things like wearing insect repellent and checking your children and pets for ticks really make a big difference.”
Hughes explained that residents who do not use proper strategies to prevent tick and mosquito bites can put themselves at risk not only for Lyme disease, but other severe illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and West Nile virus.
“In a vast majority of cases, these diseases are preventable through simple common sense,” said the County Executive. Hughes noted that even though the County runs a highly sophisticated Mosquito Control program to safeguard the health of residents, mosquitoes remain a reality in the area throughout the warmer months.
Hughes recommends that families take the following measures all summer long to keep themselves safe and healthy:
- Empty all open containers and other sources of standing water
- Invest in citronella candles, torches, or oil lamps—more environmentally friendly than “bug zappers” that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
- Consider enclosing your balcony, porch, or deck with mosquito netting
- Use bug spray at all times and make sure to reapply frequently
- Help children check themselves for ticks, and teach kids what different kinds of ticks look like
- Give pets regular doses of anti-flea/tick medication, and check them for ticks several times per week
- For extra protection, wear long-sleeve clothing and closed-toe shoes when outdoors between dusk and dawn
For more information about protecting your family from ticks and mosquitoes all summer long, as well as up-to-date information about mosquito and tick-borne diseases, contact Mercer County Mosquito Control at (609) 530-7516.