Only a few months ago a big subject discussed in this column was how happy I would be for the cold weather to be over. I do not think you will read about cold weather for a while. We are now enjoying that summer weather I wrote about. The one thing I don’t like about summer is the little pesky bugs that go with the season. Some of them are rather harmless and then others can be very dangerous to our health.
Already this season one death from West Nile has been reported in Mississippi. As you are aware West Nile is a virus transmitted by the mosquito. According to the Mississippi Department of Health, 20 percent of those infected develop a mild illness. Mild cases of West Nile may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and a rash. The incubation period is thought to range from 3 to 14 days, and the symptoms of the disease generally last from 3 to 6 days.
One in 150 infections will result in severe neurological disease. While the severe symptoms of West Nile usually strike those of us in the senior citizen category, I understand that the one death reported in Mississippi was a lady much younger.
Encephalitis is more commonly reported that meningitis. If you are bitten by a mosquito or mosquitoes and develop flu-like symptoms including fever, by all means contact your physician. The virus can be detected by blood test, but often doctors begin the treatment before the test results are known.
Preventing West Nile, of course, is better for everyone. Therefore we need to protect ourselves from mosquito bites. Remember that mosquitoes are more prevalent in late afternoon and early morning. Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeved shirts when outside during the prime time for mosquitoes. It is helpful to use a mosquito repellant containing a chemical called Deet. Keeping the lawn cut short and the shrubbery trimmed helps keep the mosquitoes away from your home. We need to make sure that there are no containers outside our homes that can hold water. Trash containers need to be covered to keep out rain water. Making sure our property does not encourage mosquitoes is one of the best preventions possible.
Ticks are also dangerous to our health. When outside and especially in the woods we need to have an insect repellant on.
On July 27, 2006, my column discussed my being bitten by a tick and becoming ill a few days later. I was given medicine by my doctor and sure enough in due time I felt better.
One positive thing that happened after the tick bite was a method sent to me by a nurse on how to remove a tick that has bitten. I offer it again and hope that you do not need it.
Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. This technique has worked every time I’ve used it (and that was frequently), and it’s much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me.
With a little caution we can have an enjoyable summer. If you belong to the senior class, just remember not to overdo the enjoyment and get too hot. That can be as dangerous as a bite from our pesky little friends. I hope you are enjoying the fruits of your labor from your gardens.
I read recently that you will know you are a country preacher if you must lock the doors of your car to keep out the squash! I am just glad to be a country preacher.
Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County. He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org