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Two ticks of the species ixodes holocyclus, before and after feeding. Bjørn Christian Tørrissen / CC BY-SA 3.0

A potentially fatal infectious disease that ticks can pass to people through bites has been identified by health authorities in the United Kingdom for the first time, according to Public Health England (PHE), as the BBC reported.

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A Lyme disease warning on Montauk, Long Island, New York. Neil R / Flickr

Biomedical engineers have developed a new, rapid test capable of detecting Lyme disease in just 15 minutes.

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There's a short window between when a tick bites and when it passes on bacteria or virus. MSU Ag Communications, Courtesy Dr. Tina Nations, CC BY-ND

By Jerome Goddard

When it comes to problems caused by ticks, Lyme disease hogs a lot of the limelight. But various tick species carry and transmit a collection of other pathogens, some of which cause serious, even fatal, conditions.

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Kerkez / iStock / Getty Images

By Nicole Ferox

It's that time of year: Mosquitoes and ticks are out in full force, and so are all the latest bug repellent products claiming to keep them at bay. So what bug repellent ingredients do Environmental Working Group (EWG) scientists recommend for kids? Our top picks are DEET, Picaridin and IR3535. These ingredients have low safety concerns and offer a high level of protection from a variety of biting insects and ticks.

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The Asian longhorned tick has been found in nine states. CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned of a "multistate infestation" with the Asian longhorned tick—the first new tick species to enter the U.S. in 50 years.

New Jersey was the first state to report the Haemaphysalis longicornis on a sheep in August 2017. Since then, it has been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, according to Friday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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The Asian long-horned tick. James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An invasive tick species was found to have spread to an eighth state Tuesday, when the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced one was found on a deer in Washington County, The Washington Post reported.

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Fairfax County / CC BY-ND 2.0

A number of factors should come into play when you're choosing a bug repellent: what part of the country you live in, where you plan to travel, whether you're pregnant and whether you are planning to use the product on children. EWG's 2018 Guide to Bug Repellents can help you find the right product for yourself and your family.

No repellent works every place against every pest, so it is worth researching the diseases insects and ticks carry where you plan to spend time outside. The repellent you might choose for a backpacking trip in Colorado could be different from the one that might suffice for a picnic on an East Coast beach.

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An Aedes albopictus female mosquito obtaining a blood meal from a human host. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library

By Joyce Sakamoto and Shelley Whitehead

Cases of vector-borne disease have more than doubled in the U.S. since 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported, with mosquitoes and ticks bearing most of the blame.

Mosquitoes, long spreaders of malaria and yellow fever, have more recently spread dengue, Zika and Chikungunya viruses, and caused epidemic outbreaks, mainly in U.S. territories. The insects are also largely responsible for making West Nile virus endemic in the continental U.S.

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Aedes aegypti mosquito obtaining a blood-meal. Public Health Image Library

The number of diseases transmitted by mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 through 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

More than 640,000 cases were reported during those 13 years. There were more than 96,000 cases in 2016, a massive jump from the 27,000 cases in 2004.

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Black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) feed exclusively on blood. tobyjug5 / Flickr

By Clara Chaisson

In the summer of 2013, I was changing into pajamas when an irritated blotch of skin caught my eye. My rib cage looked like a miniature advertisement for Target: There was a near-perfect circle of red, a smaller, concentric ring of clear skin, and then a red dot right in the middle. Bull's-eye.

In medical jargon this distinctive rash is called erythema migrans, and it's the calling card of Lyme disease. Fittingly enough, I was spending this particular peak tick season in Old Lyme, Connecticut—where it was first discovered in 1975. Luckily, I knew to be on the lookout for this exact symptom, and a course of antibiotics knocked it out of my system. I experienced no further problems.

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By Cassidy Randall, MADE SAFE

A new report from Made Safe, Bug Repellent: What's In It?, examines common active ingredients in conventional insect repellent and their impacts to human health and the environment, as well as more natural options.

There have been studies regarding the efficacy of some repellent chemicals individually. But researchers have yet to fully understand exactly how each chemical repels insects and how they may affect our bodies and the environment, let alone what the impact may be of the myriad ingredients in combination. Made Safe sees this as a call for total mixture testing, taking into account real world exposures and usage to more fully understand potential toxicity.

Here are highlights from the report:

1. Insect repellents are made up of two types of ingredients.

  • Active ingredient are the active repelling chemicals and must appear on the label.
  • Inert ingredients, which are everything else in the products and can be all kinds of things from solvents and preservatives to anti-caking or foaming agents and fragrance and are not listed on the label.

2. Some common active ingredients are chemicals of concern:

  • DEET: linked to skin irritation, neurotoxicity and shown to cross the placenta. Shows up in groundwater, surface water and drinking water.
  • Cyfluthrin: linked to neurotoxicity and harmful to aquatic invertebrates, fish and honeybees.
  • Permethrin: linked to neurotoxicity and harmful to aquatic invertebrates, fish and honeybees.
  • Pyrethroids: a class of chemicals linked to neurotoxicty; some have been linked to endocrine disruption; some have been classified as possible carcinogens.

Read more on chemicals of concern in bug repellent.

3. Some inert ingredients can be harmful, too:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved approximately 3,000 chemicals as inert ingredients, including some that are harmful chemicals like naphthalene (linked to cancer), xylene (linked to depression of the nervous system) and triethanolamine (linked to respiratory problems and liver and bladder cancer in animal studies).

4. Some plants have pharmacological and biological properties that make plant extracts effective insect repellent, including:

  • citronella
  • clove oil
  • geraniol
  • lemongrass
  • lemon eucalyptus
  • linalool
  • neem
  • thyme

Read more on plant-based alternatives and other tips to keep bugs at bay.

5. MADE SAFE has certified the first-ever bug repellent made entirely with safe ingredients:

Kosmatology Bug Repellent Balm: made with a mixture of herbs, essential oils and coconut oil.

6. Choose the repellent that's right for your needs:

Knowing your area and if you are at risk for a mosquito-borne or tick-borne illness can help you make the right bug repellent choice for you and your family. Go to Consumer Reports' Guide to Mosquito and Tick Diseases for information for your area.

With the rise of Zika virus and concern for other mosquito-borne diseases, Made Safe recognizes there is a time and place for the use of bug repellant products that would not pass our screening process. We urge people to become informed and stay on top of advice from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients) is America's first certification to screen out known toxic chemicals in consumer products across store aisles, from baby bottles and bedding to personal care, cleaners and more.

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