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M osquitoes, ticks and warm weather go hand in hand, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses such as the West Nile virus and tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease. About one in five people who are infected with West Nile will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Tick-borne diseases can result in fever, chills, head- aches and sometimes nausea or a rash. Some tick bites form a bullseye-like mark. Since these diseases are transmitted through the bite of infected insects, it is important to take precautions to protect ourselves, our families and pets. A tick is a tiny parasite that feeds on the blood of animals and people. Ticks get around by walking or hitching a ride. Tick bites may occur any time of the year, but most oen during early spring to late summer. As the weather gets warmer, ticks become more active and more likely to bite. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities. Small animals including birds, mice, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks can carry ticks onto your property. In addi- tion, if you have a pet dog or cat that frequents your yard or walks in suspect areas, they may carry ticks into your home. Here are some tips to avoid getting bitten: ❑ Wear light-colored clothing so that ticks can be seen, or pick clothing that is made of smooth or tightly woven fabrics. is makes it more difficult for ticks to latch on. ❑ Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks. Of course, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes are the best way to prevent insect bites. ❑ Apply an insect repellant to help reduce the chances of getting bit. Some repellants (such as Premethrin) should only be sprayed on clothing or camping gear, not directly to your skin, so read the directions carefully. ere are natural alternatives but, unfortunately, little testing has been done to show that these alternatives actually work to repel insects. If you camp, hike or hunt you may want to consider purchasing clothing that is pretreated. Pretreated clothing can be washed up to 70 times and still be effective. ❑ When hiking, stay on a path as much as possible and use a hiking stick to push any branches out of the way. ❑ Bathe or shower as soon as possible aer coming indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks may be crawling on you. ❑ Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and, especially, in their hair. If you find a tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible, then slowly pull HEALTH TALK As Temps Climb, Beware of Insect-borne Illnesses By Kathryn M. Serbin COURTESY OF KATHRYN SERBIN; ISTOCKPHOTO e Asian tiger mosquito was introduced into the United States in tire casings imported for recapping. 38 Navy | Spring 2018

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