Insect Protection Tips for Your Outdoor Recreation

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Unless you’re allergic to them, insect bites may be little more than a nuisance to you. However, the diseases that may be transmitted through insect bites may cause serious symptoms and require emergency care at your community hospital. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus or encephalitis, while ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. The emergency care staff at West Hills Hospital encourages our neighbors to enjoy outdoor recreation this summer while taking some precautions to prevent insect bites.

Preventing Mosquito Bites

Insect repellent with DEET is effective in discouraging mosquitoes from biting. However, children should only use insect repellent with no more than 30 percent DEET. This chemical should not be used on babies. Other ways of preventing mosquito bites include wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and staying indoors during the dawn and dusk hours. Additionally, discourage mosquitoes from gathering in your yard by draining areas of standing water, such as empty flowerpots.

Reducing Your Risk of Tick Bites

Applying insect repellent with DEET and covering up exposed skin can also help you reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick. When outdoors, try to stay on walking paths and avoid sitting on the ground. Avoid brushy or wooded areas, or check yourself for ticks immediately after walking in those areas. You can also modify the area around your home to make it less enticing to ticks. Keep your grass short, and remove brush and leaf litter.

Responding to Tick Bites

If you check yourself for ticks immediately after coming inside, you may be able to remove any ticks before you’ve been bitten. Even if you have already been bitten, removing the tick within 24 to 48 hours can usually prevent the transmission of bacteria. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, and then pull it straight out. Be sure that you remove the head of the tick from your skin. Place the tick in a sealed container, just in case it needs to be tested later for disease.

The emergency care department at West Hills Hospital is available 24/7 to diagnose and treat patients with insect-borne illnesses and other medical problems. Our hospital is also pleased to serve West Hills residents with exceptional cancer care, burn care, and maternity services. Call (818) 676-4000 to speak with a registered nurse at our community hospital.

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