Washtenaw County launches new tick and mosquito surveillance program

ANN ARBOR – The Washtenaw County Health Department has launched a new surveillance program to identify ticks and mosquitoes in the area.

The Department of Health, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and as part of the Vector Borne Disease Surveillance Program, will collect and identify insects to assess local disease risk. He will also help add data to Michigan’s tracking system.

“The primary goal of the program is to research the types of mosquitoes and ticks that can spread disease,” WCHD Environmental Health Director Kristen Schweighoefer said in a statement. “It helps us understand our local risk of mosquito and tick-borne diseases. We know that our changing climate can impact the presence of different disease vectors. Our work this summer will help us be proactive in protecting and informing our community.

In order to collect the insects, Health Department personnel set up mosquito traps at various locations around the county, including Ann Arbor Township, Pittsfield Township, Lyndon Township, Scio Township, of Salem and the township of Webster.

A d

Mosquitoes that can transmit Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), Zika, and other diseases include Aedes aegypti, A. albopictus, Culiseta melanura, and Coquillettidia perturbans. The traps have WCHD signage and residents are asked not to disturb the traps if they discover them.

Staff will also perform “tick drags” across the county to identify different species and test them for Lyme disease. Deer ticks, also known as blacklegged ticks, are of interest for their role in spreading Lyme disease and other illnesses.

According to the WCHD, Lyme disease cases in Washtenaw County doubled in 2021 from the previous year, with 54 cases reported.

So far this year, county staff have identified four Lone Star ticks, which are becoming increasingly common in the Lower Peninsula. Although Lone Star ticks do not transmit Lyme disease, they can transmit a host of other diseases, including ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Bourbon virus, Heartland virus, and the rash associated with southern ticks ( STARI), and may also be associated with alpha-gal syndrome (called red meat allergy).

A d

Zika mosquitoes have yet to be identified in Washtenaw County, and in 2016 three residents had travel-related cases of the virus. West Nile virus has been active in the county since 2002, with consistent cases in animals and humans each year.

How to prevent bites

Residents should take the following precautions listed on the WCDC website to avoid stings:

Mosquito Bite Prevention Tips:

  • Wear long sleeves, shoes and socks when outdoors.

  • Fix screens to keep mosquitoes away from your home.

  • Reduce mosquito breeding conditions by eliminating standing water around your home. Once a week, empty flower pots, tires, barrels and other objects that can retain water.

Tips for preventing tick bites:

  • Check for ticks. Perform a full body tick check using a hand mirror, if necessary. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the navel, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in the hair.

  • Use an insect repellent that contains 20% or more DEET.

  • Wear long sleeves, shoes and socks when outdoors.

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter.

  • Take a bath or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors from outdoor activities.

  • Examine equipment and pets for ticks.

  • To remove a tick, use tweezers and firmly grasp the body and pull straight out of the skin. Do not twist the tick. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands. Ticks attached for less than 24 hours do not transmit disease.

Identification of ticks

MDHHS offers free tick identification to Michigan residents. To identify a tick you have found, email a photo to [email protected]

According to the MDHHS, people bitten by a tick should watch for symptoms for up to 30 days after a bite, including rash, fatigue, and fever.

If people become ill, they are advised to seek medical attention promptly.

Copyright 2022 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All Rights Reserved.

Ryan H. Bowman