DNREC, Division of Public Health Offer Tips About Ticks

An adult lone star tick in central Delaware. DNREC photo.

 

With spring heading into summer – prime time for ticks as well as for people getting outdoors – the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has partnered with the Division of Public Health within the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to educate the public about ticks, including where they are found, how to identify different types and what precautions to take before and after exposure to ticks, as well as information about tick-borne pathogens.

“Summer in Delaware is a great time to be outdoors enjoying Delaware’s state parks, wildlife areas, trails and waters,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “However, time-honored summer activities like hiking, biking, fishing and even beachgoing and gardening can expose outdoor enthusiasts to unwanted guests – ticks. The good news is residents and visitors can take steps such as using repellent, wearing light-colored clothes and checking for ticks after being outdoors to reduce or prevent the chances of getting tick bites.”

“We encourage Delawareans to get outside to enjoy fitness and family time,” said DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik. “But we also urge people to take the proper precautions to protect themselves and others because tick bites can cause serious illness. In Delaware, the most common tick-borne illness is Lyme disease. Symptoms can include a ‘bull’s-eye’ rash (seen in approximately half of Lyme disease cases in Delaware), fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. Chronic joint, heart, and neurological problems may occur. We urge anyone bitten by a tick to monitor their health closely, and contact a physician if symptoms develop.”

Precautions to avoid or reduce tick exposure include:

  • Keep grass short and remove brush from the yard to reduce tick habitat.

    Long pants tucked into socks can help prevent tick exposure. DNREC photo.
    Long pants tucked into socks can help prevent tick exposure. DNREC photo.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks and use repellent to help keep ticks off in areas with high tick populations.
  • Choose light colored clothing to make ticks easier to see.
  • When returning from outdoor activities, check for ticks and remove any from skin with tweezers as soon as possible to reduce the chance of disease transmission.
  • Following exposure to tick-prone areas or tick bites, watch for symptoms of common illnesses caused by tick-borne pathogens and seek medical attention as needed.

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife and the DHSS Division of Public Health work together year-round to study tick populations, species distribution, seasonality and disease risk to humans, including Lyme disease. The goal of the tick program is to better understand the biology and ecology of Delaware ticks and the problems they cause, including how to best cope with those problems.

Dr. Ashley Kennedy, DNREC Tick Program entomologist. DNREC photo.
Dr. Ashley Kennedy, DNREC Tick Program entomologist. DNREC photo.

For DNREC Tick Program entomologist Dr. Ashley Kennedy, part of that work includes statewide tick surveys to collect and identify types of ticks.

“Tick surveys provide information about the numbers and species of ticks found in Delaware, as well as information about tick-borne diseases, since certain diseases are associated with certain tick species,” said Dr. Kennedy. “Knowing what species of tick has attached to you, a family member, or a pet will help determine whether you may be at risk for a tick-borne disease.”

To help Delaware residents and visitors exposed to ticks, DNREC has launched a new online tick interactions form that asks when and where the interaction took place, contact information and a photo of the tick if available to help identify its species.

Read more about Dr. Kennedy’s work in “Tick-Tock – the Ticks Are Waiting” in Outdoor Delaware online magazine.

Other tick facts include:

  • In Delaware, ticks are everywhere, but most bites occur in backyards.
  • Ticks do not jump or fall out of trees; they wait on grass or other plants for a host to walk by so they can grab on.
  • Ticks are active year-round, not just in late spring/early summer which is prime “tick season.”
  • Several different types of ticks are found in Delaware, and several types can carry different pathogens that can infect humans including Lyme disease.

More information about ticks can be found at de.gov/ticks and de.gov/lyme.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 68,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov


DNREC, DPH Offer Tips About Ticks

Summer in Delaware is all about the great outdoors – biking and hiking, backyard and beach days, gardening and grass cutting. These time-honored summer activities can expose outdoor enthusiasts to unwanted guests – ticks. Depending on the type of tick, their irritating bite can transmit a variety of pathogens that can cause illnesses ranging from mild to serious.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control in partnership with the Delaware Division of Public Health have launched new web pages to educate the public about ticks, including where they are found, how to identify different types and what precautions to take before and after exposure to ticks, as well as information about tick-borne pathogens.

Tick facts include:

  • Tick Biological Aide Sierra Quiles, demonstrating tick-safe attire: light-colored clothing and pants tucked into socks. DNREC photos.
    Tick Biological Aide Sierra Quiles, demonstrating tick-safe attire: light-colored clothing and pants tucked into socks. DNREC photos.

    In Delaware, ticks are everywhere, but most bites occur in backyards.

  • Ticks do not jump or fall out of trees; they wait on grass or other plants for a host to walk by so they can grab on.
  • Ticks are active year-round, not just in late spring/early summer which is prime “tick season.”
  • Several different types of ticks are found in Delaware, and several types can carry different pathogens that can infect humans including Lyme disease.

Recommended precautions include:

  • Keep grass short and remove brush from the yard to reduce tick habitat.
  • Wear long pants tucked into socks and long sleeves in areas with high tick populations to help keep ticks from reaching skin.
  • When returning from outdoor activities, check for ticks and remove any from skin as soon as possible to reduce the chance of disease transmission.
  • Following exposure to tick-prone areas or tick bites, watch for symptoms of common illnesses caused by tick-borne pathogens and seek medical attention as needed.

For more information, visit the DNREC website at de.gov/ticks and the DPH website at de.gov/lyme.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section Announces First Detection of Eastern Equine Encephalitis This Year

Asian tiger mosquito – Photo by Jared Belson

Mosquito bite avoidance and precautions encouraged

DOVER – Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a potentially serious illness, has been detected in sentinel chickens monitored for mosquito-transmitted diseases in Delaware, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section announced today. The Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory reported to DNREC that four chickens recently tested positive for EEE from three of the 20 sentinel chicken stations monitored by Mosquito Control. The three stations are located in southwestern New Castle County, east-central Kent County, and southeastern Sussex County.

In response to these recent EEE detections, the Mosquito Control Section will increase mosquito population surveillance in areas where the EEE detections have occurred, and take mosquito control actions as warranted to include possible aerial spraying and/or fogging with a spray truck.

Anyone in an area where the virus is present can be infected with EEE, with people who are exposed to high numbers of mosquito bites at the highest risk. The Mosquito Control Section encourages people to avoid mosquito bites and lessen their chances of contracting a mosquito-transmitted disease by:

  • Properly using insect repellent containing DEET or another EPA-recognized ingredient whenever outdoors;
  • Covering up exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants; and
  • Avoiding known high mosquito population areas or being outside during times of peak mosquito activity, typically dawn and dusk.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare, potentially fatal viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect both people and horses, and is considered one of the more serious mosquito-transmitted illnesses. While not as common as West Nile Virus (WNV), another mosquito-transmitted disease in Delaware affecting both people and horses, EEE is more virulent than WNV, with a higher fatality risk. Although WNV is usually found before EEE in the summer in Delaware, no sentinel chickens or wild birds have tested positive for WNV yet this year. No human or equine cases of EEE or WNV have been reported to date this year in Delaware. Although EEE and WNV vaccines are available for horses, no such vaccines are available for people.

Many people infected with EEE have no apparent signs of illness, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health. Symptoms of EEE often appear four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Severe cases of EEE can involve encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, beginning with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. Approximately 33 percent of EEE cases in people lead to death, and many of those who do survive can experience significant brain damage or other long-term effects. Those over age 50 and under age 15 appear to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEE. There is no specific treatment for EEE, with care based on symptoms. If you think you or a family member may have contracted EEE, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.

In addition to avoiding mosquito bites, the Mosquito Control Section advises residents to also reduce mosquito producing habitat on their individual properties and in communities and neighborhoods by draining or removing items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flower pot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders, and unused swimming pools.

The Mosquito Control Section also encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes by calling the numbers below between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after business hours or during weekends or holidays should leave their name, phone number, address, and a brief message.

  • Glasgow Office, serving all of New Castle County and northern Kent County, including the Dover area: 302-836-2555
  • Milford Office, serving southern Kent County and all of Sussex County: 302-422-1512

The public can also call these numbers to report suspected WNV-stricken wild birds, with special emphasis on crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks, and owls.

For more information about:

  • Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
  • WNV or EEE in humans and related medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.
  • Animal health questions – Contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Poultry and Animal Health Section, at 800-282-8685.

For more information about Eastern equine encephalitis or West Nile Virus, visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs Office, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 208


DNREC confirms finding Asian longhorned tick for the first time in Delaware

DNREC’s tick monitoring program confirms finding Asian longhorned tick for the first time in Delaware in northern New Castle County

DOVER – The Asian longhorned tick has been found for the first time in Delaware, DNREC’s new tick surveillance program within the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Mosquito Control Section announced today. This tick is a known or suspected vector of various pathogens or diseases affecting humans, wildlife, and livestock in other parts of the world, particularly in its native eastern Asia. In the United States, only two instances of Asian longhorned ticks attached to humans have been confirmed, and there have been no reported instances of disease transmission to humans or animals.

Asian longhorned ticksDuring tick sampling initiated this spring by DNREC’s statewide tick program, a total of five Asian longhorned tick nymphs – immature ticks – were found in late June in northern New Castle County. Dr. Lauren Maestas, the state’s tick biologist, visually identified the ticks, and his finding was confirmed through genetic analysis by the Center for Vector Biology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

With the Asian longhorned tick confirmation, Delaware now has seven tick species of human or domestic animal health concern, with five species of primary focus: black-legged or deer ticks, lone star ticks, American dog ticks, Gulf Coast ticks, and now the Asian longhorned tick (also known as the cattle tick or bush tick). Delaware’s finding brings the total number of states with recognized Asian longhorned tick populations to 12.

The Asian longhorned tick was first observed and identified in North America on sheep in New Jersey in 2017, although the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases at Cornell University subsequently determined that the species has been present in the US since 2010. The range of this invasive tick species has spread quickly, and now includes neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland as well as New Jersey.

The Asian longhorned tick expanded beyond its native China, Korea, and Japan to New Zealand and Australia, before arriving in the United States through a variety of possible routes. This tick is native to regions with a climate similar to the northeastern United States, allowing it to survive and overwinter here.

DNREC’s tick program advises taking simple steps to avoid the Asian longhorned tick, as well as other tick species, such as using insect repellent containing DEET, spraying clothing with permethrin, and wearing trousers tucked into your shoes along with long-sleeved clothing that covers extremities.

While there have been no reports of Asian longhorned tick-borne illness occurring in the United States, in other countries, bites from these ticks have made people seriously ill. According to Infectious Disease Epidemiologist Paula Eggers of the Delaware Division of Public Health, no disease-causing agents for people have been found to date in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States. Prevention is key to reducing tick-borne disease in humans. Checking your body for ticks daily, properly removing ticks, and showering soon after being outdoors all help to prevent tick attachment, and hence transfer of tick-borne diseases. The Division of Public Health urges anyone who develops a fever, rash, or other symptoms following a tick bite to contact their health care provider.

With regard to its effects on domestic animals, the Asian longhorned tick is known to swarm livestock and horses in great numbers, leading to substantial loss of blood and, if the ticks are not removed, possible death of the animals, according to Deputy State Veterinarian Dr. Karen Lopez of the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Dr. Lopez added that no disease-causing agents for animals have been found to date in Asian longhorned ticks collected in the United States. Animal owners should consult their veterinarian about methods of tick prevention, and contact a veterinarian immediately if they notice signs of illness in their livestock, horses, or pets.

Asian longhorned ticks have been reported infesting wildlife, including mammals and birds. The impact of the Asian longhorned tick on wildlife health in the United States, and the role of wildlife in its spread, is currently unknown.

DNREC’s tick program notes the Asian longhorned tick’s three post-egg life stages (larva, nymph, adult) can be found on a range of small-to-large size mammal hosts. The species also is known to reproduce without a mate. Primary habitats for these ticks in the United States are meadows and grassy areas near forested locations. In other areas, the ticks have been found primarily outside the coastal plain, which could indicate that Delaware’s piedmont region located north of I-95 is at greatest risk for establishment of this species. However, the tick could spread into Delaware’s coastal plain south of I-95, though it has yet to be found there. Distribution of the Asian longhorned tick in Delaware may change and is subject to various factors, including host availability, environmental conditions, and movement by people, pets, wildlife, and livestock.

For more information about:

  • Tick biology/management – Contact the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Mosquito Control Section tick program at 302-739-9917.
  • Tick-related human health or medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.
  • Tick-related agricultural or livestock issues – Contact the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only).

Media Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.


Keep Your Family, Pets Safe This Fourth of July

DOVER  – For many, this year’s Fourth of July activities will span the entire week and weekend, and include picnics, barbecues, beach days and other gatherings spent with friends and family (including our four-legged family members). The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is providing the following tips to keep everyone safe.

Prevent foodborne illness:
As temperatures rise, so do your chances of contracting a foodborne illness if you do not properly handle and sanitize your food. Be mindful of keeping food out in the hot sun too long and follow the proper procedures for cooking meats and poultry. When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:

• Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.

• Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, potato or seafood); cut up vegetables and fruits, especially melons; and perishable dairy products.

• A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer when hosting an outdoor event.

• Before cooking, keep meats and eggs in a container under 40 degrees F, keeping ice for beverages in a separate container.

• Refrigerate cold foods until they’re ready to be served, keeping them on ice once they are out in the open.

• Have a food thermometer on hand so you can be sure you are cooking meats to their required temperature.

• Burgers and sausage should be cooked to 160 degrees F; chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees F; and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a three-minute rest time.

• Food should not be left out longer than two hours (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F).

For more food safety tips, visit www.dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/foodsafety.html or Foodsafety.gov.

Stay sun safe:
Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself, and is linked to skin cancer. Protect your, and your children’s, skin by taking the following steps:

• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30+ and reapply regularly every two hours or after swimming.

• Wear UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes. Wear wide-brimmed hats to cover your head, face, neck, and ears. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants for optimal protection against the sun’s rays.

• Limit sun exposure when UV rays are most dangerous, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more sun safety tips, visit https://www.protectyourskinde.com/.

Avoid bug bites:
Mosquitoes and ticks are active in the summer, and both can transmit serious illnesses through their bites. While spending time outdoors, prevent mosquito and tick bites.

• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for reapplication times. When using sunscreen, apply it first and insect repellent second. Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to the child’s face. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, or on cut or irritated skin. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.

• Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants. Mosquito netting can protect one’s face and neck, and infants in carriages, strollers and playpens.

• Prevent mosquitoes from entering the house by using screens and keeping windows and doorways tightly sealed.

Protect your pets from fireworks and loud noises:
The DPH Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) advises pet owners to be aware that fireworks cause many pets to run away, and that holiday foods and heat can be harmful to our four-legged family members. The following tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association can help keep pets safe from harm during Independence Day celebrations:

• If your pet is sensitive to noises like fireworks or thunder, consult your veterinarian for recommendations on how to ease anxiety caused by fireworks and loud parties. Anxiety medications and treats, “thunder” shirts and behavioral training are all tools to help keep pets calm.

• Leave pets at home if attending gatherings elsewhere. In addition to fireworks, strange places and crowds can spook an animal and cause them to flee. Utilize a crate or escape-proof area of the home during parties and fireworks.

• Those who expect guests during the holiday, or any celebration, should inform their company to be mindful of pets when entering or exiting a home or yard to avoid accidental escapes. Place signs on doors and gates that alert guests to be vigilant about pets.

• Tell guests to refrain from sharing food meant for people as these can upset your pets’ stomach, or worse. After any in-home celebrations, check yards for food scraps and fireworks debris that animals may ingest.

• Make sure sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and skewers are out of your pets’ reach.

• Stay vigilant about times when pets are outdoors. Pets are safest inside on hot and humid days. If they must be outside, ensure they have access to fresh water and secondary shade apart from dog and cat enclosures, which can become dangerously hot inside.

• Make sure your pets have identification tags with current owner contact information. Have your pet microchipped, if they aren’t already. A microchip is an affordable device with owner information to ensure pets can return home if they get out and are found by someone else. Make sure the microchip is registered with up-to-date owner contact information.

• If a pet does escape, post its photo and identifying information on the Office of Animal Welfare’s statewide Lost & Found Pet Registry, at animalservices.delaware.gov. Review found pet notices there as well. Your pet may have been found by a neighbor or taken to a local animal shelter.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.