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Different ways to stay safe this summer

This is the time of year that Monongalia County Health Department likes to remind citizens not to poop — or pee — in the pool.

That’s still great advice, because doing so can make others sick.

But because the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the opening of area pools, and because it’s still Memorial Day weekend, and because residents are venturing out more as restrictions ease up, let’s talk about how to stay safe as summer approaches.

After all, a discussion about ticks and mosquitoes might be a nice respite from all the COVID-19 talk, right?

Like the social media meme says, “They didn’t cancel the outdoors.” They also didn’t cancel ticks and mosquitoes.

So as the weather gets warmer and activities turn to walking and hiking outdoors, we need to watch out for ticks and mosquitoes, in addition to COVID-19. Ticks can cause Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, with symptoms that include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease often begins with a rash that resembles a bull’s eye from where the tick bit the host.

Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to stay safe from ticks this summer and avoid them:

Stick to concrete paths or trails when you can.

Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Also, treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

Treat dogs and cats for ticks as recommended by a veterinarian.

Check for ticks daily, especially under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and on the hairline and scalp.

Shower soon after being outdoors.

Learn more about landscaping techniques that can help reduce blacklegged tick populations in the yard.

It’s also a good idea to pop your outdoor clothes into the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes upon returning.

Then there are mosquitoes. In West Virginia, these long-proboscis bugs can carry diseases, including West Nile virus, La Crosse encephalitis and Saint Louis encephalitis.

Then there are those diseases mosquitoes can carry that have not reached West Virginia, such as Zika and yellow fever.

For Americans, Zika is more of a concern when traveling to countries where it is more prevalent, and then primarily for pregnant women. While a pregnant woman might not even realize she has Zika, she can pass it on to her unborn child in the form of birth defects, primarily congenital microcephaly

To avoid mosquitoes, try to rid your yard and the area around your home of places with standing water, such as buckets that fill with rain and flowerpots, because those are breeding areas for mosquitoes. If you have ponds or birdbaths, there are products called Mosquito Dunks that will kill mosquito larvae.

Also, the same insect repellents that ward off ticks are good for mosquitoes as well.

Another good tip for your time in the sun — use sunscreen with a sun protectant factor (SPF) of at least 15. Also consider wearing a hat and sunglasses that block UV rays.

And, while you are out and about, maintain a six-foot social distance from others and wear a mask.

This summer is obviously different, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Just make sure you are safe while doing so.

Contact Mary Wade Triplett at 304-598-5152 or at