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Doctors say prevention is key when it comes to fighting the bite of mosquitoes and other pesky summer bugs

Check yourself and your clothes when outside during tick season
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 8:34 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Summer has officially started and if people are heading outdoors to explore, doctors recommend keeping an eye out for bugs like ticks and mosquitoes.

Physician and dermatologist at Aspirus Health, Dr. Stephen Lewellis said the No. 1 bug to look out for in the summer months in Wisconsin is ticks. Dr. Lewellis said if people are thinking about hiking or doing any outdoor recreational activity, to check themselves once they get inside in areas that were both exposed and not exposed.

“You want to make sure it’s not lodging itself within your skin. If you do find a tick on your skin, and you feel like it’s been there, especially if it’s been there more than 24 hours, you certainly want to get that checked out. Ticks can carry things that can transmit illnesses. Lyme disease is the most popular or most well-known one, but there are others as well,” he explained.

He said to look out for a red, ring-like rash that can appear around a tick bite because that can be an early sign of Lyme disease. He said it’s most important to check skin areas that were exposed, but also areas that could be forgotten about like areas where the skin folds, like the groin and armpits.

“Oftentimes, sometimes people will come in and they say, ‘well, I have this mole on my back’ or something like that, and then it ends up being a tick. That’s rare, but that’s possible and we want to get those as early as possible,” he explained. “... Those are just hard to find sometimes. And those first 24 hours are really important. If you remove the tick early enough, you have a good chance of preventing the transmission of something like Lyme disease. And if you do have a bad reaction to a bug bite, usually it can be taken care of with things that are available readily over the counter. But some people who are hypersensitive or just have a lot more widespread rash may need to see either their family doctor or a dermatologist.”

Mosquitoes are another bug he said people should keep an eye out for. He said he recommends people use a combination of long-sleeved clothing and insect repellent to prevent those bug bites from happening.

“Being vigilant is the best way to prevent things, as some people prefer clothing that protects the skin, but that’s not going to be 100%. I like to combine clothing that’s relatively protective with bug spray.”

Dr. Lewellis said he’s heard some concerns about the ingredients in bug repellent sprays, so he recommends people go to the CDC’s website to choose the best one for them and their families.

“Choose whatever one works best for you and that you’re most comfortable using. And just make sure you’re applying enough of it [while] avoiding areas like your eyes, things like that, inhaling it, and then just watch for certain reactions,” he explained.

He said it’s unlikely to see diseases spread through mosquitoes in Wisconsin, however, the possibility is not totally ruled out.

“We definitely do live in an area where it’s possible. But it’s thankfully not as prevalent as some like Sub-Saharan Africa where mosquitoes can transmit the thing that causes malaria. That is a big, big problem in certain parts of the world. But we’re fortunate enough to not have that as an issue here. But it’s still a possibility. So you need to watch out for it. And the best thing always is prevention. So if you don’t get the bite in the first place, you don’t have to worry about that.”

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