Newsroom > DHHS News Release


June 30, 2008

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047, or

Sound bites from Dr. Annette Bredthauer are available at


DHHS: Avoid Insect-related Illnesses

Lincoln—People outdoors this Fourth of July weekend may potentially come into contact with ticks and mosquitoes. To avoid insect-related illnesses, take precautions, says the public health veterinarian of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

Ticks can cause erlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease. So far this summer, one case of erlichiosis, three cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, three cases of tularemia, and one case of Lyme disease have been reported in the state, according to Dr. Annette Bredthauer.

Mosquitoes can cause West Nile virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis, all potentially very serious diseases, Dr. Bredthauer said. So far, no cases of any of these have been reported this year.

The symptoms of tick- and mosquito-borne illnesses can be similar—fever, rash, muscle or joint aches, nausea, and confusion. The illnesses can be deadly.

"A good way to avoid both ticks and mosquitoes is to wear insect repellent," she said. FDA-approved insect repellents are: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535.

"It’s a good idea to wear solid shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. To avoid ticks, tuck your pants into your socks," Dr. Bredthauer said.

Check yourself and your pets when you come indoors. Ticks can be as small as the size of a poppy seed. Remove a tick promptly by taking a tweezers and pulling it out as close to its mouth parts as possible. Don’t use alcohol or a lit match.

To prevent mosquitoes, eliminate their breeding places by eliminating standing water. Empty out buckets, tires and flower pots. Check your roof gutters to see if they’re holding standing water. Add larvicides to ponds and lagoons. Change the water in bird baths every five days.

For more information about insect-related illnesses, go to the Web site of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at