Slather on the sunscreen and bug spray and have fun this summer
By Mary Wade Burnside
At Monongalia County Health Department, we always have advice to give on how to navigate the summer months more safely, and obviously, with the COVID-19 pandemic still an issue, this season is not going to be any different.
Here are some tips on how to summer safely in 2022:
• If you’re not vaccinated for COVID-19, please consider getting one. COVID vaccines will help keep you from getting COVID and if you do come down with the virus, the case should be a lighter one. Also, in many instances, it will make traveling and attending events easier, especially for those that have vaccine requirements. An event I’m attending strongly urges COVID vaccination, and individuals who are not must present a negative COVID test daily. You can get vaccinated at MCHD Clinical Services by calling 304-598-5119 to make an appointment or by going to this link.
• Consider testing for COVID more often. Right now, you can get eight home test kits free online from the United States Postal Service. Now that I’m starting to do more activities in person, I’m getting tested periodically just to keep myself and others safe, especially as I visit my elderly mother nearly every week.
• Going swimming? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there is no evidence that COVID-19 can spread through recreational water.
In any year, MCHD Environmental Health offers advice on healthy swimming, including keeping sick kids (and adults) out of the pool. This makes more sense than ever, but you still don’t want a child with everyday diarrhea in the pool for obvious reasons. Other bodily fluids you want to keep out of the pool include blood, sweat, dirt and pee. So shower and hit the loo before you dive in.
• Going for a hike or a walk in a woodsy, grassy area? Or just taking your dog out? Be on the lookout for ticks and mosquitoes. As you know, a bite from a tick can cause Lyme disease and other illnesses, depending on the type of tick. Lyme disease is on the rise in West Virginia. Last year, an urgent care physician contacted Monongalia County Health Department to alert us to the number of cases he was seeing, and as the weather gets warmer, this year appears not to be any different.
Michael Abshire, a member of the state’s Office of Epidemiology & Prevention Service’s Zoonotic Disease Group, said more Lyme investigation cases have been created in the state of West Virginia: 466 compared to 278 compared to this time last year, and twice as many in Monongalia County: 40 compared to 19.
To keep safe from ticks, steer clear of grass when you can. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Inspect yourself and your pets for ticks and put your clothes in the dryer upon returning home to be safe. If you see a bull’s-eye rash on your body, visit a health care provider, who can treat Lyme disease easier with an antibiotic when it’s in an early stage.
• As for mosquitoes, use bug spray when you plan to be outside for long. Remove standing water from your property and if you can’t, a product called Mosquito Dunks can safely kill mosquitoes and their larvae while keeping you and your family safe.
It really is time to go have some fun. Just remember there are easy ways to keep safe.