PRYOR, OK —
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, some mosquito-borne viruses include: West Nile, Dengue Fever, Malaria and Yellow Fever.
Though there have been no reported cases of any this season in Mayes County.
Infected or not, the parasites are an unwanted summer guest.
Repellent products containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of eucalyptus or IR3535 typically provide long-lasting protection, according to the health department.
While mosquitos are a problem county wide, only some towns are fighting back with mosquito sprays or fogs.
For those hitting the great outdoors, ticks are another problem.
Although only a small percentage of ticks are infected with diseases, they can carry illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, Lyme Disease, Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness and Heartland Virus.
The Heartland Virus, according to Maria Alexander of the state health department, was first confirmed in 2009. As of last Monday, 10 cases have been confirmed in the U.S, including two deaths. Alexander said cases have occurred in Missouri, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
“It is not yet fully known how people become infected with Heartland virus. However, recent studies suggest that ticks, namely the Lone Star tick, may spread the Heartland Virus,” said Alexander. “How people are infected is still under investigation.”
Symptoms of the heartland virus include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea.
The health department suggests conducting a fully body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including backyards. Waistbands, armpits, groin areas, back, scalp and hair are the most common locations for ticks.
Wearing light colored clothing makes ticks easier to see while tucking pants into shoes can help keep ticks at bay.
According to the health department fine-tipped tweezers should be used for tick removal.
“Grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. Pull the tick from the skin with a gentle, steady upward pressure trying not to twist or jerk the tick as you pull. Wash the bite area and your hands with warm soapy water when finished removing the tick,” according to the health department. “Remember to not squeeze the body of the tick any time it is attached or after you remove it as it can release harmful bacteria into the bite or onto your skin. Do not use matches, gasoline, nail polish remover, or other ointments as methods of tick removal.