In an especially nasty year for ticks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement about a possible method for preventing the spread of diseases carried by their bites, Live Science reports. By spraying clothing with an insecticide called permethrin, experts believe you can cause the bugs to get so-called "hot feet" and fall off before transmitting germs that cause Lyme and other tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever. According to a study published in the Entomological Society of America's Journal of Medical Entomology, permethrin caused ticks of multiple species to fall off clothing and, after prolonged exposure, caused their movements to become uncoordinated. The findings are more solid evidence that covering up with clothing and applying insecticide are two vital steps to preventing tick-borne illness.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans catching diseases from tiny bloodsucking creatures is going up at an alarming rate, federal authorities warn. According to the latest report from the CDC, the number of reported illnesses caused by ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas more than tripled between 2004 and 2016—and since many illnesses go unreported, the true total is probably much higher than the 642,602 cases reported over the period. In the case of Lyme disease, the number of illnesses may be up to 10 times the 36,429 cases the CDC recorded for 2016, the Washington Post reports. Analysts say other such diseases—including recently discovered ones like Powassan virus—are on the rise in the Northeast, California, and the upper Midwest and partially blame warmer weather, which is causing longer tick seasons and expanded insect ranges. (Read more ticks stories.)