Summer Preparedness against Tick and Tick-borne and Mosquito Illnesses -

Summer Preparedness against Tick and Tick-borne and Mosquito Illnesses

What is today?????  The first day of Summer!!!  Summer is here and we have many things in progress outdoors.  We are currently in the Family Reunion mode, summer camp mode, camping and fishing, softball/baseball and many more activities.  Families will be gathering outdoors and there is a  risk of attracting unwanted hitchhikers. Ticks are so prevalent in the southern states it is nearly impossible to not come in contact with them.  Ticks are found in wooded, brushy areas; in tall grass; and in leaf litter on the ground. When engaging in activities in environments where ticks are likely to be, lower your risk for picking up a tick by using the following strategies published by the American Red Cross First Aid Course:

■Limit the amount of exposed skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pant legs into your socks or boots.

■ Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks on your clothing.

■ Stay in the middle of trails. Avoid underbrush and tall grass.

■ Conduct a full-body check for ticks after being outdoors.  Check the scalp, under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the navel, around the waist, behind the knees and between the legs. If you are outdoors for an extended period of time, check several times throughout the day.

■ Consider using an insect repellent if you will be in a grassy or wooded area for a long period of time or if you know that the tick population in the area is high. Use repellents sparingly. One application will last 4 to 8 hours. Heavier or more frequent applications do not increase effectiveness. DEET is the active ingredient in many insect repellents. The amount of DEET contained in the product can range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. The more DEET that a product contains, the longer it will provide protection. Products with 30 percent DEET are as safe as products with 10 percent DEET when used properly.

■ Apply products that contain DEET only once a day, or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

■ Do not use DEET on infants younger than 2 months.

■ Do not use a product that combines a DEET-containing insect repellent with sunscreen. Sunscreens wash off and need to be reapplied often. DEET does not wash off with water. Repeating applications may increase absorption of DEET through the skin, possibly leading to toxicity.  To apply repellent to your face, first spray it on your hands and then apply it from your hands to your face. Avoid sensitive areas such as the lips and eyes.  Never put repellents on children’s hands. They may put them in their eyes or mouth. Never use repellents on an open wound or irritated skin.

When it comes to Arkansas specifically the Arkansas Department of Health (http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/infectiousDisease/zoonoticDisease/TickborneDisease/Documents/TickBorneDiseaseBrochures.pdf)  has reported that Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is the most common tick-borne disease in Arkansas. RMSF is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsia. This bacterium is carried mostly by the American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis, but also by the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Not all ticks are infected. It takes an infected tick four to six hours to spread disease after attaching to the host. Adult ticks look for large hosts such as dogs, but they also feed on humans. Ticks are often found in overgrown lots and along weedy roadsides, paths and hiking trails. Most RMSF cases occur between June and August when tick populations and outdoor activities are highest. Half of all people with RMSF do not remember being bitten by a tick. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Symptoms and Treatment Symptoms of RMSF generally appear suddenly, about one week after an infected tick bite. However, there may be symptoms any time between 2 and 14 days after a bite. Symptoms include: ∙ High fever ∙ Headache ∙ Muscle pain ∙ Non-itchy, pink rash usually starting on the wrists, forearms and ankles It is important to get medical care as soon as possible if you think you have RMSF. Blood tests are required to diagnose RMSF, but treatment should begin as soon as symptoms and/or recent tick exposure suggest RMSF.

The other pesky little but is the mosquito.  Mosquitos have a problem biting and causing an allergic response that itches and causes welts on the skin.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed numerous mosquito illnesses herehttps://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/outdoor/mosquito-borne/other.html.  I would like to talk about the two biggest ones we and hear of more often.  I want to first focus on the West Nile Virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: The most common way the West Nile virus is transmitted to workers is by the bite of a mosquito. Most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever and other symptoms. Less than 1% of those infected develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

Employers should provide workers with training about West Nile virus prevention and symptoms of infection, and provide EPA-registered insect repellent and protective clothing. Workers can prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing that covers their skin.

Since the West Nile Virus was identified in Uganda in 1937 and making its debut in New York City in 1999 there have been 2469 cases resulting in 119 deaths: (https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/resources/pdfs/cummulative/99_2013_CasesAndDeathsClinicalPresentationHumanCases.pdf).  Since this time people are looking for those warning signs and seeing medical treatment much sooner than later.  Some of the things to look for are flu like symptoms with a lot of joint pain, and even paralysis. 

The second Mosquito Virus I would like to mention is the Zika virus disease (Zika).  Which, is caused by the Zika virus and is spread to people primarily from the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite most actively in the daytime but also bite at night. There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika infection. 

NIOSH and OSHA developed guidance for protecting workers from occupational exposure to Zika virus. NIOSH has also developed fact sheets for outdoor workers, U.S. businesses and business travelers, healthcare and laboratory workers, and a fact sheet and poster for cruise ship workers. For updated Zika information visit CDC Zika.

USA Today reported the first continental US death just short of one year ago on July 8, 2016.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/07/08/1st-death-related-zika-virus-seen-continental-us/86879204/  The report went on to say. . . The person had Zika symptoms — including rash, fever and conjunctivitis — but it’s unclear if or how the virus contributed to the death, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman Benjamin Haynes.

Officials discovered the case while reviewing death certificates, and lab tests confirmed their suspicions, said Gary Edwards, executive director of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

Utah authorities refused to release additional information about the patient or where he or she traveled, citing health privacy laws.

I feel the Zika virus is still pretty new to the US and we will have evolving list of symptoms to look for and those that need to be especially careful are those women who are pregnant.  The Virus is associated with microcephaly in unborn babies. 

I hope you will find the information regarding ticks and mosquitoes valuable and you are able to take measures to protect yourselves.  Stay away from the tall grass, keep covered and wear some bug spray when you are in wooded areas.  Take precautions, have a healthy summer.  Enjoy and be careful out there. 

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