Tick and mosquito season arrives in Tahlequah
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Campus News, Health

Tick and mosquito season arrives in Tahlequah

Published 3/29/16

Matt Dorr

TNE Writer 

Spring has arrived and warm weather is on the horizon.  Many students are preparing for outdoor activities, such as planning float trips or visiting a local state park for hiking or camping.

Those who plan on spending time outdoors this spring are encouraged to take preventative action against ticks and mosquitos.

Ticks and mosquitos are common in Oklahoma. Ticks can usually be found in tall grass or within trees. Mosquitos are found around standing water because they use standing water to breed.

“We have five or six different species of ticks in the Tahlequah area,” said Dr. Craig Clifford, biology professor. “Some of the more common tick species are the Lone Star, Dog and Deer ticks.”

Ticks and mosquitos are responsible for transferring many different kinds of illnesses to humans. Between the two insects, the method of delivery is the same.

The anticoagulation or blood thinning enzymes in tick and mosquito saliva enters the blood stream when the insect bites the skin. In some cases, it can cause severe infection.

“Female ticks and mosquitos are responsible for biting humans,” said Clifford. “Females use the ingested blood for their eggs. Male ticks and mosquitos usually feed on plants.”

Tick and mosquito bites can become infected. The health services staff on campus has experience in dealing with infected bites.

“Most infected tick and mosquito bite victims have fever, rash or aches and pains,” said Deshea Carter, health services nurse practitioner. “In the Tahlequah area, I have seen Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia and Q fever from tick bites.”

West Nile disease and the new Zika virus are two mosquito related illnesses causing concern for Oklahoma residents. While the amount of identified cases of West Nile remains low, no cases of Zika virus have been diagnosed in Oklahoma.

“The scary thing about mosquitos is they can lay eggs and reproduce in very small amounts of stagnant water,” said Clifford. “Staying away from standing water will decrease the chances of getting sick due to a mosquito bite.”

One of the most common ways to fight ticks and mosquitos is DEET, also called Diethyltoluamide. DEET is an ingredient in most outdoor bug sprays. It helps repel insects due to its chemical compound.

“I use the bug repellant candles to keep me safe while I am at home,” said Alexis Carson, Dallas junior. “When I run trails or while I am at lake, I use OFF! because it seems to do the best.”

Health services on campus can assist students with bug bite identification or treatment.

“We usually prescribe Doxycycline when we think tick or mosquito bites are the cause of illness,” said Carter. “It is like a cure-all for those illnesses, unless it is severe enough for hospitalization.”

For more information on identifying and treating tick and mosquito bites, call health services at 918-444-2126.

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