SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Department of Health is stepping up its public outreach regarding vector-borne illnesses, which according to the Centers for Disease Control are on the rise nationwide.

“Our health department staff is conducting additional educational programs this year to supplement our very successful ‘Fight the Bite!’ campaign that has been in use for the past five years,” said Freeholder Patricia Walsh, health liaison. "Fight the Bite!" deals with mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses and gives residents practical tips for avoiding them.

Residents will begin to see Fight-the-Bite! signage in county parks and along trails and pathways throughout the county, as friendly reminders that everyone can take simple steps to protect themselves and their families from diseases that can be transmitted through mosquitoes and ticks. Lyme disease, in which humans can become infected through the bite of a deer tick, remains the most common form of vector-borne disease in Somerset County, according to a recent analysis of data for the years 2010 through 2017.

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According to a recent issue of the CDC’s Vital Signs publication, disease cases from mosquito, tick and flea bites more than tripled in the U.S. between 2004 and 2016. A total of 642,602 cases were reported nationwide during this period. Risks of vector-borne disease appear to be increasing, with nine new vector-borne diseases discovered or introduced in the U.S. since 2004.

The CDC advises that state and local public health agencies can help mitigate the growing threat of vector-borne disease by building and sustaining public health programs, training vector-control staff, and educating the public about how to prevent bites and control vector-borne diseases in their communities, all areas where Somerset County Department of Health is actively involved. Information on the Fight-the-Bite! program and a number of free downloadable resources can be found on the Somerset County Department of Health website at http://bit.ly/FighttheBite

The Somerset County Department of Health provides public health services to Bedminster, Far Hills, Franklin, Manville, North Plainfield, Raritan and Somerville. For more information, visit www.co.somerset.nj.us/health  Contact information for health departments in the county’s other 14 municipalities can be found at http://bit.ly/MunicHealth