Thursday, August 9, 2012

Prevention is Key

*SMACK*. You swat at them, you loathe them, and you are scared of them.  It’s that time of year again when mosquitoes and ticks are out and hungry. But how dangerous can these little buggers be?
I will outline diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes and a few ways to avoid them this summer and fall.
Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and sometimes reptiles that absolutely make my skin crawl! Just googling pictures of them make me squirm. They are also known to carry disease which can be transferred through blood. According to the CDC, ticks carry pathogens which can cause a disease like anaplasmosis. Caused by the bite of a blacklegged tick, which can be found in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern states, this disease causes fever, headaches, and chills. Next is babesiosis, which can be very harmful to people who do not have a spleen, have a weak immune system, or are elderly. Complications can be unstable blood pressure, malfunction of vital organs and death in some cases. A common disease caused by ticks is called Lyme disease. Typical symptoms include rash (commonly identified), fatigue, and headache. Lyme disease is very serious because if left untreated for a period of time it can cause swelling, shooting pains, Bell’s palsy, and arthritis. Finally I’ll mention TBRF or tick-borne relapsing fever which can be found in 15 states and is from the bite of a soft tick. TBRF is a bacterium which causes relapsing fever, muscle and joint pain, rash, and dizziness. The worst part is that the fever will disappear and reappear between 1-4 times. If you believe you have been bitten by a tick please seek a health care provider.
For more tick related diseases see
Here’s a checklist on how to prevent ticks:
o   Avoid tall grasses and walking through wooded or bushy areas.

o   Use repellents that contain DEET. This usually lasts a few hours.

o   Wear protective clothing that contains permethrin.

o   Bathe right after coming indoors and visually check body for ticks, for parents, check your younger kids because they could miss them. Ticks can be found in armpits, behind ears, in the belly-button, and in hair.

o   Clean items with you. Heat clothes in a dryer for an hour to kill ticks and make sure none tagged along on you camping gear or etc.

o   Finally, remove a tick from your body by using tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible, pull upward (evenly and without twisting), and clean the area with rubbing alcohol.

Mosquitoes are very common. Simply sitting outside for a few moments can invite them to come bite you. “Fewer than 100 of the world’s 2,700 mosquito species carry disease,” says the U.S. Department of Agriculture. So what are the diseases that these pests cause? The most common disease causes 300-500 million infections worldwide, however is not commonly found in the U.S, is malaria. The disease is spread by the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito and regardless of precautions, travelers to regions of Central and South America, Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe can contract the disease. I’m sure you have heard of West Nile Virus or WNV, which is said to flare up in the summer and fall in North America. Although only causing 18 deaths in the U.S. since 1999, WNV can cause some serious illness, especially of those 50 years of age or older. Commonly associated with WNV is arboviral encephalitides, which causes brain swelling. Though cases are rare, this disease is found in the U.S. and has four varieties, and can cause coma, brain damage, and death.
Here’s a checklist on how to prevent mosquitoes:
o   Do not let water sit. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

o   Wear insect repellant or burn citronella candles.

o   Do not wear perfume or cologne outside; mosquitoes are attracted to sweet scents.

o   Keep body covered with clothing.

o   Keep mosquito netting around you (around deck, etc.) and keep tent flaps closed at all times.
Prevention is the easiest way to stay safe this summer and fall!
At Preferred Family Healthcare, we strive to be a dynamic, caring organization united to assist others in achieving their potential.
For more health and wellness tips don’t forget to follow us for #wellnesswednesday on twitter! 

-Maxwell Law

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