It’s summertime and we’re feeling that summer sun. You may also be feeling an itch or two from those bug bites that seem inevitable every summer. The kids are at summer camp and perhaps you’re enjoying working in the yard, family hikes or cooking out with friends and family. Enjoy summertime’s outdoor activities but be alert of bug-borne illnesses.
We spoke with Kendall Stacey, Infection Prevention specialist at Mission Health, to get her expert insight and top tips on being well and avoiding bug bites this summer.
What are the common types of bug-borne illnesses in western North Carolina?
Mosquitoes can also be a major threat. La Crosse encephalitis is the biggest threat in our region due to the increase in activity at summer camps.
How can I protect myself from bug-borne illnesses?
Repellent! Choose the best repellent for you. When it comes to bug-borne illnesses, being proactive is the best thing to do. Always wear proper repellent anytime you’re going outside – whether you’re hanging out in the backyard or are being active. I recommend a repellent that has DEET or picaridin in it. If you are looking for a more holistic approach, lemon eucalyptus oil also works as a natural repellent against bugs.
Use clothes as protection
When you’re considering a repellent to protect and cover up, also be mindful of what you wear. Your clothes can be a great tactic in addition to repellant to fight the bites. I know it’s hot outside under that summer sun, but wearing long pants or sleeves when you can and closed-toed shoes can help increase your protective measures against mosquitoes and ticks.
Pay attention to your surroundings
Not only is it important to protect your body during the summer months, you also want to be aware of your surroundings at home and when you’re out and about. Clean up any areas where standing water may be an issue. And pick up or remove even small items, like bottle caps and fallen limbs, because they can pose as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Don’t let that tick sit – debunking a myth
You may have heard that you need to either “smother” a tick or wait for it to detach on its own before removing it – but that actually isn’t the case. Once you notice a tick on you or someone else, you should carefully remove it immediately. Be sure to get all of the tick off and clean the area promptly.
Regardless if the bite is from a mosquito or tick, keep an eye on the bug bite for a couple weeks and use a healing ointment or cream. See a doctor if anything of concern arises, such as fever or rash.
Kendall Stacey is an Infection Prevention Specialist at Mission Health.