National Pest Management Association Urges Americans to Protect Against Mosquito and Tick-Borne Disease

Monday, August 11, 2014

Survey Finds Less Than a Quarter of Americans Purchase Insect Repellent to Protect Themselves From Vector-borne Disease

 

FAIRFAX Va. - Less than a quarter (22%) of Americans purchase insect repellent to protect themselves and/or their families from vector-borne disease such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease according to a survey conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) in July 2014 among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. As the summer and peak season for interaction with these pests continues, the NPMA reminds the public that insect repellent is vital in protecting against the health risks associated with mosquitoes and ticks.

Although West Nile virus, Dengue fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other vector-borne diseases have been present in the U.S. for several years, others have emerged more recently. Chikungunya, a virus that is new to the U.S., is transmitted by mosquitoes and was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean in late 2013. The first locally acquired cases of the virus were reported in Florida in July 2014, and it has since been reported in at least 37 states. All vector-borne diseases are transmitted when a mosquito or tick bites and feeds on the blood of its host, making it critical for steps to be taken to avoid being bitten in the first place.

"In recent years the use of sunscreen has become habitual for the majority of Americans and their families who spend time outdoors during the summer months," said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "We hope the public will begin to recognize the application of insect repellent as another critical tool in protecting their families' health. As a rule, insect repellent should always be applied on top of sunscreen, and reapplied every four to six hours."

The survey also found that only 54 percent of Americans who report purchasing insect repellent check the bottle to ensure it contains at least one of four essential ingredients. "When buying insect repellent always select one containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535," said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical advisor for the NPMA. "Vector-borne diseases are a growing concern in the U.S., so it is essential that we understand how to protect ourselves and recognize the signs and symptoms of these diseases."

  • Lyme disease: Common early symptoms include a bull's-eye rash anywhere on the body, joint pain, chills, fever, fatigue and headache.
  • West Nile virus: Symptoms could include fever, headache and loss of appetite, although in 80 percent of cases, people may display little to no symptoms at all.
  • Chikungunya: The most common symptoms of this viral infection are fever and joint pain, while some may experience headache, muscle pain, swelling or rash.

Those who are experiencing signs of infection should seek immediate medical attention. To learn more about mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, as well as ways to protect against them, visit Pestworld.org.  

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org.

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Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association from July 17-21, 2014 among 2,097 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Missy Henriksen (706-352-6762 mhnriksen@pestworld.org) or Gina Kent (610-455-2763 gkent@vaultcommunications.com).