Friday, July 15, 2011

Insect Safety

As someone who promotes lots of time outside in nature, I feel I also need to share suggestions about sun and insect safety. Today I'll focus on insects. My next post will be about sun safety.

I am not a medical person, so you should consult your doctor for specific advice. My knowledge comes from my experiences and research plus conversations with my child's pediatrician.

In our part of the world, there has been a recent increase in the mosquito-borne disease called Eastern Equine Encephalitis. While it is a rare disease, it can be deadly. Those who do survive can be completely debilitated or have a long road to recovery. A friend who was diagnosed last August is still in rehab battling back from the disease.

Lyme disease-spread by deer ticks- is also in our area. It has been identified in 49 states but is most common in the Northeast and Midwest. You do not have to be in the deep woods or a rural area to be bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease. Deer ticks can be in your lawn or local park.

A few facts:
  1. Being bitten by a deer tick does not mean you will get Lyme disease.
  2. You can only get Lyme Disease from a tick that carries Lyme Disease.
  3. Even if a Tick with Lyme bites you, you still may not catch Lyme disease. The tick needs to be attached for 36 to 48 hours for you to get it.
  4. Deer ticks can be TINY. As small as a poppy seed or the period at the end of this sentence.

Suggestions:
  1. Be safe and use insect repellent, even when the sun is shining (ticks don't care if it's sunny).*
  2. Avoid being outside at peak mosquito times- dawn and dusk.
  3. Wear light colored socks when hiking, etc. They make spotting ticks easier.
  4. Check your kids and yourself for ticks every day after being outside. Don't forget behind the ears, under the arms, and in the groin area. (Sweeping across the skin, 'CSI style,' with a flashlight helps). We try to make this part of our nightly routine, though admittedly we sometimes forget.

*My kids' pediatrician advises we use products with 10 percent DEET. If you are uncomfortable using DEET, there are all natural products available that offer reasonable protection. Be aware that most natural repellents must be reapplied after about 2 hours while DEET usually does not. Check the labels for recommendations regarding reapplication.

Misinformation abounds on these diseases. I encourage you to learn more by visiting reliable websites such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or Web MD to read about Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Lyme Disease. You can also read how to "avoid summer health woes."
 
These are some particular risks in my part of the world, but insect-borne diseases are certainly not limited to here. Please take precautions based upon your part of the world. These risks don't mean you need to avoid being outside. Just take the necessary precautions and head outside for some fun.


How do you stay safe outside? Do have any relevant experiences to share?

Related post:
Mystery Rash (Poison Ivy)

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