Steps to stay protected from ticks, mosquitoes as summer arrives in Michigan

Doctors remind parents to protect children from prominent pests

DETROIT – With summer about to arrive in Michigan, doctors are warning residents to take steps to protect themselves from ticks and mosquitoes.

For several summers ticks have become a bigger problem in Southeast Michigan. Many parents in the area have already reported finding ticks on their children in recent weeks. Most had been playing in their own backyards or in parks -- not necessarily just in heavily wooded areas.

A new national poll from Mott Children’s Hospital found that 23% of parents are very concerned about mosquito-borne illnesses.

Twice as many parents are worried specifically about ticks, with 46% reporting a high level of concern.

In Michigan, mosquitoes can carry viruses such as West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which can cause permanent disabilities and even death.

The most common tick-borne illness in Michigan is lyme disease.

The Mott poll found most parents say they usually use bug spray on their children, but they were more likely to do so in wooded or swampy areas, not necessarily in yards, neighborhoods or parks.

Just one in three parents reported using bug repellent that contains DEET -- the most effective ingredient to protect against mosquito bites.

The study found 34% of parents often have their children wear long pants and long sleeves to protect against bites, while 21% wear light-colored clothing.

Experts said 73% of parents always have their children wear shoes outside.

Since an infected tick generally needs to stay attached for at least 24 hours to transmit lyme disease, it’s important to do thorough tick checks on children when they come indoors. Also, parents should learn how to remove ticks properly.

Make a habit of putting on bug spray to protect against mosquitoes and ticks. It’s not just an issue for people who travel up north or hike in the woods. It’s also in our own backyards.

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