Robins Public Health team raises awareness on mosquitos, ticks

  • Published
  • By Amn Aliah Brown
  • 78th Medical Group Public Health

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Mosquitos are common, flying insects that live in most parts of the world.

There are more than 200 mosquito species in the United States, and 12 of them carry disease or pathogens. The top three mosquito species in Georgia are Culex, Anopheles, and Aedes. The eight types that inhabit Georgia are:

– Asian tiger (Aedes) bites during the day and night and transmit diseases like Zika virus, West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue fever and eastern equine encephalitis.

– Southern house (Culex) is Georgia’s primary West Nile virus vector, but it also spreads avian malaria, zika.

– Florida SLE mosquito (Culex) is one of the worst for disease vectors. Some examples of these diseases include chikungunya fever, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever and Rift Valley fever.

– Common malaria mosquito (Anopheles) was the main vector for U.S. malaria outbreaks in the past; it’s a common mosquito that invades Georgia each year.

– Winter marsh (Aedes) is a carrier for encephalitic virus, including Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

– Yellow fever mosquito (Aedes) only invaded a few areas of Georgia, but it’s a concern because it’s a vector for dangerous yellow fever.

– Upland Floodwater mosquito (Aedes) mosquito carries diseases such as the rare Bunyaviridae virus, also called Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

– Eastern Saltmarsh mosquito (Aedes) day and night biters are aggressive and transmit eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and heartworm to dogs.

Mosquitos can bite day and night, and only the female mosquito bite. When they bite, the most common reactions are itching and swelling. They ingest viruses and parasites when they bite infected people or animals, and then pass those viruses and parasites to humans.

It just takes a few infected mosquitos to start an outbreak in a community and put you and your family at risk of becoming sick.

Bite symptoms include:

– A puffy and reddish bump appearing a few minutes after the bite.

– A hard, itchy, reddish-brown bump, or multiple bumps appearing a day or so after the bite or bites.

– Small blisters instead of hard bumps.

– Dark spots that look like bruises.

Treatments for mosquito bites

– Wash the area with soap and water.

– Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes to reduce swelling and itching. Reapply ice pack as needed.

– Use an over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream to help relieve itching. Follow the product label directions.

– Do not scratch bites as they can become infected.

– An infected bite may appear red, feel warm or a red streak will spread outward from the bite.

– See a healthcare provider if symptoms worsen.

How to protect yourself from mosquito bites

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants and use insect repellants that contain the ingredients below to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Use an insect repellant product that contains 15% DEET ingredients. Other products with these ingredients that repel mosquitos include Picaridin, derived from piperine in pepper plants, also known as Icaridin outside the U.S.; IR353 (Ethyl Butylacetylaminopropionate); oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or Para-menthane-diol (PMD); and plant-based lemon oil.

When preparing your clothing for the outdoors, use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitos. Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection, but after multiple washings the permethrin will run out. Do not to put permethrin products directly on skin.

 Take these steps to control mosquitos indoors and outdoors:

– Use screens on windows and doors. Repair holes in screens to keep mosquitos outdoors.

– Close doors, including garage doors. Do not leave doors propped open.

– Use air conditioning when possible and/or if available.

– Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers. This will help stop mosquitos from laying eggs in or near water.              

How to protect yourself from ticks

Ticks are very small and have flat oval bodies that swell when they eat. Even adult ticks are about the size of an apple seed, unless they’ve just fed, meaning they are hard to spot. Also, they feed on the blood types of wildlife and humans.

Ticks make their homes in wooded areas with lots of shrubs, tall grasses, weeds and leaf litter. All are good places for them to latch on to animals walking by. They will settle down in overgrown patches in your yard, woodpiles, bird feeders and they can also hitch a ride on your pets.

If you live in an area with ticks, you have a chance of being bitten. Ticks spread disease by passing along bacteria, viruses and parasites. These organisms feed off their hosts. Most of these illnesses give you the typical flu-like symptoms, such as chills, fever, headache and muscle aches.

Ticks that are found at Robins Air Force Base

The most common ticks found locally are the Lone Star Tick, American Dog Tick and the Black-legged Tick, also known as “Deer Tick.” Diseases related to these ticks include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis.

Remember the 4 D’s of Prevention

– Limit outdoor activity during hours of DUSK/DAWN when mosquitos carrying WNV are most active.

– Apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin and permethrin to clothing. 

– Ensure screens on DOORS and windows are in good condition, stay and sleep in air-conditioned rooms.

– DRESS in loose-fitting clothing, tuck pants into socks and wear long sleeves to reduce skin exposure to ticks and mosquitos.

– Try to stay out of tall grass. Wear light‐colored clothing so crawling ticks can be easily seen. After spending time outdoors, thoroughly inspect your body for crawling or attached ticks.

We hope you have a safe, healthy and pest-free summer.

For additional information on vector-borne diseases, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Vector-Borne Diseases website at For questions, call Public Health at (478) 327-8019.