Avoid Getting Sick in Nevada with Summer Health Tips | Carson Tahoe Health

Avoid Getting Sick in Nevada with Summer Health Tips

Stay healthy in the summer of 2012, and by the way, leave the Snakes Alone.

Great Basin Rattlesnake

Well believe it or not, summer is here. And it’s time for a refresher in warm weather infection prevention techniques to keep you and your family save and healthy.   These are my tips in a nut shell but you can always find more information at cdc.gov.

As always, West Nile virus is a concern in Northern Nevada. There have already been one reported human case in California and some WN positive birds up at the lake.  This is very early.  We’re usually well into July before sick birds start dropping from the sky.  So remember, FIGHT THE BITE.  Mosquitoes are most active in the morning and evening hours.  Use a mosquito repellent with DEET, and wear long sleeves and pants for added protection.

Human Hanta virus infections have been reported recently in counties to our south.  Remember this virus is very dangerous and is usually transmitted by dry mice urine.  The virus is transmitted when inhaled. An example of a hazardous situation is stirring up contaminated dust in a low activity area such as a shed or abandoned building.  Be careful;  wear a mask and use 10% diluted bleach to clean in suspicious areas.

Plague is another concern for this summer.  With the rodent population sky rocketing due to our mild winter, more rodents = more fleas= higher risk of plague.  Avoid handling rodents dead or alive with your bare hands and always wear gloves.

As a kid, my brother and I used to set traps for chipmunks using a cookie sheet, peanut butter and a box. This is not, I repeat, NOT a good idea.  Chipmunks bite, and they have fleas. Teach your kids to observe and appreciate animals  from a far.

PLEASE leave the snakes alone.  Many people tell me when they see a snake, any snake, anywhere, they kill it.  I understand most people don’t care for snakes, but we really need them to keep the rodent population down.  If it is not a rattlesnake in your yard, and it is not threatening you, please leave it alone.  Think of how they are helping protect us from Hanta virus, and plague, and then just turn away.  Resist the urge to smash them or decapitate them with a shovel.  Take a deep breath and walk or run away.  Snakes in general are shy so if they see you, they will make a run, or crawl, for it.  LET THEM GO.

Remember your basic food safety tips too.  Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.  Be extra careful with raw meat and chicken.  Cooked meats and chicken must be placed on a clean platter.  Don’t put them back on the same platter used before they were cooked.  Never let kids eat improperly cooked meat or chicken. These can be contaminated with E.coli and can kill a small child.

Only drink water from a stream or river if you absolutely have to. If the water is running over rocks in direct sun light for at least 100 feet (just ask any boy scout) it is probably OK to drink.  It’s best to leave lake water for the fish.  These techniques will help protect against the Giardia parasite.

If you know me at all, you know how I feel about buffets and pot lucks.  I love the food, but cringe at the idea of all those people before me in line touching, sampling, sneezing, etc.  So here are a few tips to make it a little safer.   First, go early.  The earlier you get there, the fewer people have gone ahead of you.  Second, remember that the hot foods, in general, are safer than the cold foods when it comes to contamination.  Third, take your spoon and fork from the table to use as your serving tools.  This will keep you from touching all the big utensils everyone else has touched, and also helps your waist line by taking smaller portions.  Be sure to ask for a clean set when you go back for seconds.  Lastly, reach to the back of the serving bowl.  If a little kid samples the food with his not so clean hands, the food in the back is less likely to be germ ridden than the food at a child’s eye level.

Have a great summer and remember, don’t believe everything you hear or read.  Get the facts for yourself. If you have any questions, give me a call or check out the cdc.gov web site.

As always,

 thanks for your kind attention. Doris Dimmitt, Hospital Epidemiologist, CTH