R.V. Doon

Ticks, Flies, and Mosquitoes, Oh My

Today the CDC is reporting on the discovery of a new virus, called the Heartland virus, because the first place it showed up was in the blood of two men living in Missouri. This virus is associated with a group known as phleboviruses. The reason the Heartland virus is associated with phleboviruses is because it’s similar but not the same. The Heartland virus produces a different set of proteins. But like its cousins it might be carried by flies, ticks, and mosquitoes. Both men infected in Missouri reported more than one tick bite. The reported symptoms are: high fevers, fatigue, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. I couldn’t help wondering if the men were asked about fly or mosquito bites as well. Plus, it would be easy to mistake these symptoms for flu.

I recently traveled on a battlefield tour with my son this summer. We used deep woods bug spray and wore hats, plus I even used an umbrella for shade (heatwave) and still I found two ticks on me. A lifetime first event for me. My lower legs had plenty of Deet, so I assume the ticks dropped from the trees. But here in Mobile, I’ve never had a tick, but I have had plenty of mosquito and fly bites. I hope this news doesn’t stop people from going out into nature because I think we humans recharge out in the wild. I know I did. While we were on the battlefields, most of them are state parks and well maintained, I saw kids touring the battlefields but very few got out of the car.

Learning about a new virus shouldn’t make one paranoid, but it should make us cautious. After applying the best bug spray with Deet you can find, go out and have fun, but when you’re done physically check for ticks. I’d hate to think the kids of the future will tour our wild areas and state parks using just classroom videos. What are your tips for keeping your family save from tick bites?

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