Its summer! Many people consider it their favorites season. While summer can be a lot of fun, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reminds us that taking some basic precautions to keep us and our kids safe can go a long way in keeping the fun going. 

This is the first of a four-part series of articles with safety tips from the Department of Health to help you stay safe while you are having your summertime fun! 

In this article, we are looking at a couple of nasty insects that can bring not only annoyance, but also disease. We’re talking about Ticks and Mosquitos.  

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First up, avoiding tick bites... 

Ticks can make you sick when they bite. They are most commonly found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. Ticks can’t jump or fly so they don’t seek you out, but they do attach to you when you come into direct contact with them. Follow these steps to help protect yourself from tick bites: 

  • Check yourself for ticks once a day — it’s the single most important thing you can do. 
  • Use repellents that contain DEET on your exposed skin and those that contain permethrin on your clothes. 
  • When walking or hiking, stick to main pathways and the center of trails if you can. Brushing against tall grass and bushes will increase your exposure to ticks. 
  • Weather permitting, wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks. This will help keep ticks away from your skin and make it easier to spot ticks on your clothing. 

Because dogs and horses are particularly susceptible, talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your animals from tick-borne disease. 

Second up, preventing mosquito bites... 

The 2019 and 2020 mosquito seasons were active for Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the State of Massachusetts. This mosquito-borne illness which appears generally in 2- to 3-year cycles, and peaking during August. The presence of EEE last year, a relatively mild winter, and historical patterns suggest an active season this year. 

While the risk for human infection of EEE or West Nile Virus won’t happen until later this summer, people have an important role to play in protecting themselves from these illnesses which can be very serious. To prepare for mosquito season: 

  • Drain standing water in and around your house or yard to prevent mosquito breeding. 
  • Repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home. 
  • Use a mosquito repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient according to the directions. 
  • Wear clothing to reduce exposed skin when weather permits. 

For more information about preventing mosquito and tickborne illness, visit www.mass.gov/mosquitoesandticks. 

In our next DPH Summer Guidance article, we'll be taking about Water & Pool Safety.

 

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