Maine CDC Press Release

June 28, 2007

Practice the 'Three Cs' to Reduce Likelihood of Tick, Mosquito Bites and Related Disease

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director
Maine Center for Disease Control
Tel: (207) 287-3270

AUGUSTA - The Department of Health and Human Services’ Maine Center for Disease Control reminds Mainers that while it is important for our overall health to enjoy the outdoors, it’s important to take some simple precautions that will reduce one’s chances of tick and mosquito bites.

“‘Clean Up, Cover Up, and Check Daily’ is our mantra,” said Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director of the Maine CDC.

• Clean Up unnecessary standing water, rain gutters, leaf litter, brush, and logs in order to reduce tick and mosquito habitats around the yard;

• Cover Up with a long-sleeve shirt and pants, and use a DEET-containing insect repellent to reduce the chances of being bitten by ticks and mosquitoes;

• Check Daily your skin and you children’s skin for ticks when outside.

“Over the past several years, we have seen a large increase in the number of Mainers who have reported Lyme Disease – from less than 100 per year 10 years ago to almost 350 in 2006,” explained Dr. Mills. “Since Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection carried by deer ticks, effective prevention measures include reducing the chances of getting bitten and checking skin for ticks, since the infection will not be transmitted if ticks are removed within 24 to 36 hours.”

The most common early symptom of Lyme Disease is an expanding red rash that occurs at the site of the tick bite within 3-32 days after being bitten. Fever, joint and muscle pains may also occur. Persons with these symptoms should call their doctor. Although a few report ongoing symptoms, the vast majority fully recover after receiving appropriate treatment.

West Nile Virus has been detected since 2001 in birds across Maine and in several samples of mosquitoes. “Since this virus is carried to a geographical area by birds, and is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds, the risk of human infection appears to be present even though there are no reports of people contracting the infection in Maine,” Dr. Mills said.

Because of Federal funding cutbacks, the Maine CDC will no longer be testing birds for West Nile Virus. It is also not as necessary this year, as the purpose of the bird testing was to detect the presence of West Nile Virus. “We did detect it in birds across much of Maine and we will now focus our tracking efforts on targeted mosquito testing,” said Dr. Mills.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, also known as EEE or “triple e” was detected for the first time in Maine in 2005. At that time, two horses in York County died of EEE and it was detected in some birds and mosquitoes in York and Cumberland Counties. Although there were seven human cases of EEE in New Hampshire in 2005 (none in 2006), it has not been detected in people in Main as yet, Dr. Mills said. As with West Nile Virus, the Maine CDC will focus its ongoing monitoring of EEE with targeted mosquito testing.

“The simplest prevention measures against EEE and West Nile Virus involve avoiding mosquito bites, especially during their most active times of dusk and dawn and reducing mosquito populations in and around one’s home,” noted Dr. Mills. Repairing window screens is an additional strategy that reduces the risk of infection.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus and EEE include flu-like symptoms such as fever and vomiting, as well as headaches and occasionally neurological symptoms such as stroke-like symptoms or coma. People with these symptoms should call their doctor.

People can find additional information on Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, and EEE as well as mosquito control issues at www.MainePublicHealth.Gov, under ‘Mosquito-Borne Diseases FAQ’ and under ‘Ticks and Lyme Disease.’