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Hot and wet weather creates a breeding ground for pests

LAWRENCEVILLE - While Georgians might be thinking of ways to beat the miserable summer heat, the Peach State has become a paradise for parasites.

According to the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, recent hot and wet weather has created ideal breeding grounds for pests like fleas, mosquitoes and ticks.

"The rainy spring has created a welcoming environment for fleas and ticks so we should be ready for a rough parasitic season," said Dr. Kevin Chapman of Hoschton, GVMA Public Relations Committee Chairman.

Ticks are usually harmless to humans and most tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics, but early detection is critical. The most common tick-borne disease transmitted in Georgia is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Lyme disease, another disease spread by ticks, is relatively rare here.

The most common mosquito-born disease is the West Nile virus, a bird disease that, for humans, usually includes mild symptoms such as headache, fever and fatigue. In pets, mosquitoes can transmit heartworms.

Since there are no specific vaccines for mosquito-born illnesses, prevention of mosquito bites is imperative. That's why precautions such as ridding your home and yard of standing water and using insect repellent containing DEET are important.

SideBar: At a glance

How to remove a tick:

Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible and pull it out slowly. Do not twist the tick and do not cover it with petroleum jelly, nail polish or other "home remedies."

They may increase the chances of bacteria transmission and

infection. Treat the bite area with disinfectant.

Source: The Georgia Division of Public Health

Mosquitoes:

· Only female mosquitoes bite. They must have blood meals to reproduce.

· Not all kinds of mosquitoes bite humans, some feed only on animals.

· Mosquitoes breed in water. Essentially, anything that holds water for about a week can breed mosquitoes.

Ticks:

· Commonly found in shady areas, tall grass, brush, low tree branches and along trails in the woods.

· Not all ticks carry diseases.

· Ticks must be attached for a few

hours - sometimes days - to transmit diseases.