The best ways to avoid insect bites this summer
Now that warm weather has settled into the Tennessee Valley, health experts say it's time to remember that more and more bugs will be out there with us and they like to bite.
Now that warm weather has settled into the Tennessee Valley, health experts say it's time to remember that more and more bugs will be out there with us, and they like to bite. Some bugs can transmit diseases, so it's important to know the best ways to protect yourself and your family.
So far there has only been one tick-related illness reported in Hamilton County this year, according to the health department. However, there have been 49 cases in other parts of Tennessee.
Bonnie Deakins, Director of Environmental Health says it helps to wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible and to be careful when hiking.
"If you're hiking, you want to stay toward the center of the trail. You don't want to get knocked to the side, rubbing up against the bushes and trees because the ticks are there waiting," Deakins said.
She says to take a shower as soon as you get home. Then check your clothing, skin and hairline and immediately remove any ticks.
"Take a pair of tweezers and try to get the tick as close to the head as you can. You don't want to leave the head in your skin," Deakins explained. "Get a hold of it and gently pull straight back."
Symptoms of a bite can appear within a few days or take up to a month. Fever, rash, chills and fatigue are all signs of potential Lyme disease or spotted fever and should receive medical attention. In rare cases, they have been deadly.
The health department has no reports of mosquito-borne diseases in the county or state this year, but mosquitoes are also a nuisance during the summer. They use stagnant water as breeding grounds, so get rid of empty mosquito magnets around your home.
"Old cans that have water in them," Deakins said. "Tires, plugged gutters, kids toys, old kiddie swimming pools."
Fill your birdbaths with clean, fresh water once a week too.
Deakins said the best defense against almost all summer bugs is insect repellent, but don't just spray your skin. Use a spray specifically for clothing only to get full protection. Look for "permethrin" as the active ingredient.
"The smell of the repellent, they don't like that. So they're not going to come around you," Deakins added.
Deakins also said parasites in pool water can spread disease. Avoid swallowing pool water, and check with your apartment or public pool office to make sure they have an inspection certificate from the health department.
For more information, visit the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department's website.