Focus on Health - December (posted December 18, 2017)

These nuisance insects are spreading throughout our community. The Langlade County Health Department has received reports from the schools that an increasing amount of children are being affected. Below is a quick summary of each type of bug with details on how to stop an infestation.
Head Lice
A tiny insect that lives on the human scalp
Hatch from small, oval shaped eggs called “nits”, which are firmly attached to strands of hair
Viable nits are near the scalp, whereas empty or non-viable nits are further down the hair shaft
If household members have lice, the home needs to be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed, and clothing and bedding need to be put in the dryer for 20 minutes on the highest setting
Items that cannot be washed can be bagged up for two weeks or put outside overnight if the temperature is below freezing
The health department has a 22 day treatment plan that involves treating with lice shampoo and following with olive oil. This plan can be especially helpful for heavy infestations and sensitive scalps (for this treatment calendar, please call our department)
Discourage sharing of headphones, brushes, hats, helmets, etc. Also advise against activities that involve head to head contact such as “selfies” and close hugging
Fleas
A tiny reddish-brown insect that is able to jump a distance of up to one foot
Prefer cats and dogs as hosts, but can infest humans
Pets need to be up to date on flea treatment
Flea bites can look like clusters of itchy red marks to raised bumps, depending on each person’s reaction
They can, in some cases, spread diseases such as cat-scratch fever, typhus and plague to humans
They reproduce rapidly
Animal bedding, food/water dishes and litter boxes should be thoroughly cleaned or disposed of
Carpeting, rugs, pillows, furniture and even your beds must be vacuumed thoroughly and FREQUENTLY to capture all of the fleas
Traps, pesticides, and steam cleaning are options to supplement vacuuming
Addressing a flea infestation can take from 10 days to a month or more
Bed bugs
A small, oval, wingless, rusty colored insect that has a flat body
Feed primarily on the blood of humans, usually at night when people are sleeping
Bites can produce large, itchy welts on the skin
They are transported from infested areas by clinging onto clothing, luggage, furniture or bedding that is brought into the home
They often can be found in the seams and folds of mattresses
When it is colder than 25 degrees F, place mattresses and furniture outside for at least 8 hours to kill the bed bugs
Wash all bedding, draperies and clothing in hot water on a regular basis
Vacuum and steam clean carpets
Use insecticides to get rid of bed bugs that are hiding in walls and behind baseboards, window and door casings, and moldings
By taking these steps, you may successfully rid your home of these pests. Keep in mind, professional pest control is a good option for heavy infestations. For any additional questions, please contact the Langlade County Health Department at 715-627-6250.