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bug bites

It’s bug-bite season – do you know how to protect yourself?

You step outside to enjoy the summer sun and before you know it, you’re covered in bug bites. Sound familiar? Insects thrive in hot and humid weather, which means outdoor activities during this time of year can quickly turn into a feeding frenzy if you don’t take precautions.

Bites from insects such as mosquitoes and ticks can cause annoying itchiness and spread more serious diseases, like Zika virus, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Find out what you can do to keep you and your family safe from bug bites this summer.

Use insect repellent

Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET for protection against mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs. Other repellents protect against mosquitoes but may not be effective against ticks or other bugs.

If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry and then apply repellent. Do not use products that contain both sunscreen and repellent. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

Consider using clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents) that are treated with permethrin, which is an insecticide. You can buy pre-treated clothes or treat your own clothes. If treating items yourself, follow instructions carefully. Do not use permethrin directly on skin.

Cover exposed skin

As much as possible, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and a hat.

Tuck your shirt into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks for maximum protection. Some bugs can bite through thin fabric.

Think about the indoors, too

Choose hotel rooms or other accommodations that are air conditioned or have good window and door screens so bugs can’t get inside. If bugs can get into where you are sleeping, sleep under a permethrin-treated bed net that can be tucked under the mattress.

Protect the little ones

Here are some helpful tips for applying repellent on children:

  • Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children younger than 3 years old.
  • Children should not touch repellent. Adults, apply it to your hands and gently spread it over the child’s exposed skin.
  • Do not apply repellent to children’s hands because they tend to put their hands in their mouths.
  • Keep repellent out of the reach of children.

For babies under 2 months old, protect them by draping mosquito netting over their carrier or car seat. Netting should have an elastic edge for a tight fit.

Pregnant women, be careful

Some infections, including Zika, can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, so pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites while traveling. In the case of Zika, because infection in a pregnant woman is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika outbreaks.

When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are safe and effective for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

When to seek help

If you’ve been bitten, be sure to see a doctor right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • The sensation that your throat is closing.
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face.
  • Chest pain.
  • A racing heartbeat that lasts more than a few minutes.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • A headache.
  • A red, donut-shaped or target-shaped rash that develops after a tick bite. This could be a sign of Lyme disease, which should be treated with antibiotics.
  • A fever with a red or black, spotty rash that spreads. This could be a sign of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks, which should be treated immediately.

Next steps:

Following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid.

Planning a cookout? Follow our grilling safety tips

Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but firing up the grill can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper precautions.

Each year, grilling accidents cause nearly 10,000 home fires and send 16,000 people to the emergency room. But following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid:

  • Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
  • Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
  • Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
  • Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
  • Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
  • If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.

When using a gas grill

  • Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
  • If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
  • If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.

Next steps:

Fireworks safety tips from UK HealthCare

Got fireworks? Keep your Fourth fun, safe with these tips

Thousands of children and adolescents in the United States are injured in firework-related accidents every year during fireworks season, which starts now and runs through the middle of July.

In fact, in 2015, more than 3,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 in the United States were taken to emergency rooms with injuries related to fireworks.

Before you and your family head outside to enjoy the Fourth of July and other summer festivities, check out our tips for staying safe around fireworks.

  • Leave it to the professionals. Instead of setting off fireworks at home, attend a public fireworks display. You’ll be out of harm’s way and still be able to enjoy the show.
  • If you are using fireworks at home, take precautions. Never let children play with or light fireworks, and always read all warning labels before use.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks. And be sure to stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby. A bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher will work.
  • Don’t try to relight a firework that hasn’t worked properly. Instead, put it out with water and get rid of it.
  • Be careful with sparklers. Sparklers heat up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and present a real health risk, especially for small children. Instead of sparklers, let your little ones use glow sticks – they’ll have fun and stay safe, too.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Have a phone nearby in case you need to call 911, and teach children what to do if their clothing catches fire (stop, drop and roll). In the case of an eye injury, avoid touching or rubbing it, which can make the injury worse, and get help immediately.

Next steps:

water safety tips

8 tips to keep kids safe around water

Before you head to the pool or lake this summer, be sure safety is on your mind, especially when children are around.

Among children age 15 and under, drowning is the No. 2 leading cause of death. Whenever children are near water, follow these safety rules:

1. Be aware of small bodies of water

This includes bathtubs, fishponds, ditches, fountains, watering cans – even the bucket you use when you wash the car. Children are drawn to things like these and need constant supervision to be sure they don’t fall in. Make sure you empty containers of water when you’re done using them.

2. Keep a watchful eye

Children who are swimming – even in a shallow toddler’s pool – should always be watched by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR. Be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision” whenever infants, toddlers or young children are in or around water. Empty and put away inflatable pools after each play session.

3. Enforce safety rules

No running near the pool and no pushing others underwater.

4. Don’t forget life jackets

A life jacket fits properly if you can’t lift it over a child’s head after it’s been fastened. For children younger than 5, particularly non-swimmers, life jackets should have a flotation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.

Don’t allow your child to use inflatable toys or mattresses in place of a life jacket. These toys may deflate suddenly, or your child may slip off into water that is too deep.

5. Safety in the backyard

Backyard swimming pools (including large, inflatable above-ground pools) should be completely surrounded by a fence that keeps children out without adult supervision. Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so children are not tempted to enter without supervision.

If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before children go swimming. Also, never allow children to walk on the pool cover.

6. Avoid hot tubs

Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated in them.

7. Adults, stay away from alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol when you are swimming or supervising. It presents a danger for you as well as for any children you might be supervising.

8. Eliminate distractions

Talking on the phone, working on the computer and other tasks need to wait until children are out of the water.


Next steps:

  • When someone is drowning, it often goes unnoticed. No splashing. No waving. No yelling for help. Visit the blog tomorrow to find out how you can identify someone who’s drowning and what you can do to help.
  • Before you head outside to enjoy the summertime sunshine, be sure to protect your eyes with tips from our eye care expert. 

Stay safe in summer’s heat

When summer temperatures arrive so does the risk for heatstroke – a condition marked by a dangerous rise in body temperature. Left untreated, heatstroke can severely damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It could even lead to death.

But there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place.  This summer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Sports drinks work well, but there’s really nothing better for hydrating than plain old water. Be sure to drink around eight glasses a day, especially if you’re sweating.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Constricting clothing exaggerates the body’s natural insulation, but looser garments allow air to flow and keep the body cooler.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF at least between 20 and 30. This should offer you protection from sunburns, which affect your body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. Usually that means between noon and 5 p.m. If you can, get your work done before or after.
  • If you must do something active between noon and 5 p.m., take frequent breaks. Rest inside or in the shade to allow your body to cool down.

Recognizing heatstroke in others

If you notice one or more of these symptoms in you or someone else, call 911 right away.

  • Changed behavior or mental state. Mood swings, irritability or confusion may signal that things aren’t right.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed skin.
  • Rapid breathing, racing heart rate.
  • Headache.
  • Sweating or not sweating. Heatstroke from hot weather may lead to hot and dry skin, while heatstroke from exercise may lead to moist skin. Pay attention to both.
  • High body temperature. If your temperature reaches 104°F, get medical attention immediately. This is the definition of heatstroke.

Take immediate action

Remember, heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you think someone is having heatstroke, call 911 and do the following:

  • Move the affected person into shade or inside, preferably somewhere with air conditioning.
  • Remove any excess clothing, like jackets, vests or hats.
  • Cool them down by any available means. Put them in a tub of water, spray them with a hose or place a damp towel across their forehead.

Next Steps

Prevent Zika virus in Kentucky with repellent.

What you should know about Zika virus this summer

Talk of the Zika virus is everywhere these days, and it has many people understandably worried. On Tuesday, UK HealthCare experts held a news conference to answer questions about Zika. The bottom line? If you’re here in Kentucky and aren’t planning to travel this summer, your risk of catching Zika is very low. But there are things you can do to be prepared in case that risk increases this summer.

“At the present time, the risk for infection is low for Kentuckians not traveling to areas with active Zika,” said Dr. Phillip Chang, UK HealthCare chief medical officer. “However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to provide updates and if locally transmitted cases are found in the U.S., the risk could increase.”

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites or through sexual contact with an infected person. Currently, virus transmission is happening in many Caribbean and Central and South American countries. Although many people who become infected have mild or no symptoms, pregnant women who contract the disease are at high risk for complications. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a potentially fatal neurological disorder characterized by an abnormally small head.

Currently, the only cases in the U.S. have been travel-associated. But concern is growing about the possibility of travelers spreading it to mosquitoes in the U.S., which can then infect people who have not traveled to countries with the active virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the main carrier of the virus, can be found in the U.S. during the summer months, including Kentucky. This means that the Zika virus in Kentucky could be a real possibility.

“Currently, there is no anti-viral treatment and no vaccine for the Zika virus, so we are focusing on prevention and risk reduction and, if necessary, proper screening for our patients if Zika becomes a concern in the region,” said Dr. Derek Forster, UK HealthCare medical director for infection prevention and control.

Pregnant women and Zika

Since February, UK HealthCare’s obstetrics and gynecology clinics have been educating patients on the risks of Zika, particularly for pregnant patients or pregnant patients with partners who travel to these areas, said Dr. Wendy Hansen,chair of UK Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We have been telling pregnant patients to postpone travel to areas with outbreaks of Zika virus, which currently is nearly all of Central America and much of the Caribbean and South America,” Hansen said. “We also are counseling and advising patients on what to do if they have partners that plan to or have traveled to these areas.”

According to current CDC guidelines, the following special precautions are recommended for pregnant women:

  • Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika.
  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
  • Until more is known, pregnant women with male sex partners who have lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus should either use a condom every time they have sex or abstain from sex throughout the pregnancy.

Precautions for everyone

While the Zika virus is most dangerous for pregnant women who risk complications, everyone is urged to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during the summer months to prevent possible spread of the disease.

Precautions include:

  • Wearing protective clothes, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants. For extra protection, treat clothing with permethrin, a chemical that repels insects and kills mosquitoes and ticks when sprayed on clothing, tents and other gear.
  • Using an EPA-registered insect repellent every day containing one or more of the following active ingredients: DEET, PICARIDIN or IR3535.
  • Using screens on windows and doors, and using air conditioning when available.
  • Keeping mosquitoes from laying eggs in and near standing water near your home.

“Although these precautions are especially important for pregnant women and women of childbearing age who want to become pregnant, we want everyone to educate themselves on how to protect their family members and friends,” Hansen said.

Watch UK HealthCare experts discuss Zika virus below.

 


Next steps:

  • The CDC recommends that testing for the Zika virus be done for pregnant women who have recently traveled somewhere with active Zika or anyone who has traveled and has symptoms.
  • For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website.