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Summer safety for children


Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes

Ticks are usually harmless. The biggest disease threat from tick bites is Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi.

Lyme disease is spread by the bites of lxodes ticks. Lxodes ticks are also called: the deer tick, bear tick, western black-legged tick, or black-legged tick. Lxodes ticks are about the size of a pinhead. They can attach to any part of the body, but usually attach themselves to moist or hairy areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. About 80 percent of people who get Lyme disease develop a large rash that looks like a bull's-eye. Other symptoms include muscle aches and stiff joints.

Another insect-borne illness, West Nile virus, is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. West Nile Virus usually produces mild symptoms in healthy people. However, West Nile Virus can be serious for older people and those with compromised immune systems. The most common symptoms of West Nile Virus are flu-like and can include fever, headache, body aches, and skin rash.

How to Protect Yourself

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines on the market for West Nile virus or Lyme disease. If spend a lot of time in tall grass or wooded areas, use insect repellent with DEET to ward off mosquitoes and ticks. Insect repellent should not be used on babies, and repellent used on children should contain no more than 10 percent DEET.

Check yourself for ticks before bedtime. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers, drop it in a plastic bag and throw it away. You don't have to save the tick to show it to doctors. If you want to get a tick tested for diseases or other information could check with their local health departments, but not all of them offer tick testing. The Centers for Disease Control recommends cleansing the area of the tick bite with antiseptic. Early removal of the tick is important because a tick generally has to be on the skin for 36 hours or more to transmit Lyme disease.

Anti-itch cream applied to the affected area also may help reduce itchiness.

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