The summer is upon us and we tend to spend more time outdoors. Who here likes to go camping and hiking? When we go out into the wild, there are some dreaded pests that we must watch out for.
– Poison ivy
– Mosquitos (and West Nile Virus at the extreme)
– Ticks (and Lyme disease at the extreme)
Here is a guide on how to avoid these, the symptoms you may experience, and what to do once you have exposure.
Poison Ivy is easy to look for – I remember the simple rhyme:
Leaves of three, leave them be.
They look like this:
When in contact with skin, they can leave an itchy rash for about 1 to 3 weeks.
Unfortunately, the only way to remove the rash is time, but there are immediate steps that you can act upon to reduce the itchiness and redness of the rash. First, strip off your clothes and placing it in a separate load to wash than your other clothes. Then, wash the area well with rubbing alcohol and water, making sure to get every area the ivy has touched – including under fingernails. As tempting as it is, be careful not to scratch the area and apply a cool compress to it. A natural cream/lotion solution to apply to the itchiness is tea tree oil.
Female mosquitoes feast on blood to make their eggs. Mosquitoes are annoying, and they can leave a red welt, and possibly a deadly virus. But did you notice that as you swat away yet another mosquito, that your friend has barely any bites? How can this be? Well, experts from WebMD say that it is based on the different concentrations of compounds in the body. From genetics to cholesterol to uric acids and carbon dioxide, there are many factors to attraction to a prey. More details on this research can be found here http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/are-you-mosquito-magnet.
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or blow in the wind. Rather, they move slowly, but can. To prevent the infection of ticks, wear long-sleeve shirts, apply DEET insect repellent, and clear leaves, branches, and woodpiles from your garden. As deer may be a carrier of ticks, they can also attract ticks near you – remove plants that attract dear to your yard.
Remove all clothing that may have come in contact with ticks, put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out to dry for at least 15 minutes.
When removing ticks, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grabbing as close to its mouth as you can (not its belly as it can excrete infected fluid into your body). Gently pull the tick straight out, then place in a ziplock bag or a dry jar for later examination.
Ticks can transmit Lyme disease to the person it bites. However, not every tick is a carrier, as most do not carry disease. So, if bitten, it is important to keep the tick in good condition for later testing. Place it in a damp paper towel, inside a zip-lock bag to prevent dehydration of the specimen. A dehydrated specimen makes it harder to identify.
More information on the removal of ticks can be found here.