Fight the Bite! Protect Yourself from Ticks this Summer

Ticks have, unfortunately, become one of summertime's irritations, and sometimes bites from ticks can become serious. Residents should know how to protect themselves from illnesses spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria and is spread through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks). The range of the blacklegged tick in Michigan is growing, and Barry and Eaton counties are now considered to be risk areas for Lyme disease. Other types of ticks are commonly found in Michigan, as well, and can spread other tick-borne diseases to people.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before Lyme disease can be transmitted. Therefore, a full-body check to find and remove any ticks after spending time outdoors is important. Ticks should be removed by grasping the tick with fine-tipped tweezers as close to the skin's surface as possible.

It is recommended that ticks removed from people be submitted for identification. Ticks that are identified as blacklegged ticks and are still alive can then be submitted to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHSS) for Lyme disease testing. The following steps should be followed when submitting a tick:

    Only ticks that have bitten (been attached to) people (not animals) or have been engorged with human blood should be submitted.
  • Ticks should be intact (not crushed or in pieces).
  • If the tick is alive, place it in a small container with a small piece of paper towel moistened with drop of water.
  • If the tick is dead, place it in a small, watertight container filled with water or alcohol. Dead ticks can only be submitted for identification, not testing for Lyme disease.

The Environmental Health Division of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department can assist with the screening, packaging, and mailing of ticks to MDHHS for tick identification and testing. Ticks can also be directly submitted to MDHHS; go to http://1.usa.gov/1Ij9MQS for more instructions, including the submission form.

If you are bitten by a tick that is suspected or confirmed to be a blacklegged tick, you should call your health care provider. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely came into contact with the tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, and fatigue. Many, but not all, people will get a characteristic "bull's-eye" skin rash. If untreated, infections can become serious. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

To avoid being bitten by a tick, there are several ways you can protect yourself:

  • Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be spotted more easily and removed before they bite.
  • To keep ticks from reaching your skin, wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pants into socks or boot tops. Wear boots or shoes instead of sandals, especially in areas by brush or long grass.
  • Apply insect repellents with DEET to clothes and exposed skin, and apply a permethrin product to clothes (this kills ticks on contact). This can lower the risk of tick bites. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for use.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, and then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

For more information on Lyme disease, visit the State of Michigan's website at www.michigan.gov/lyme or the Barry-Eaton District Health Department's website at www.barryeatonhealth.org. For tick-related questions, including questions about tick submissions, please call the Environmental Health Division of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department in Eaton County at 517-541-2615 or in Barry County at 269-945-9516 (select 3, then 5).

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

Article posted on June 7th 2017. - Article Permalink

National Observances Bring Awareness to Men's Health

June is National Men's Health Month, and June 12-18 is National Men's Health Week. These observances aim to bring awareness to men's health issues and to encourage men and boys to be proactive about their health.

Of men in the United States, 12.4% are considered to be in poor health. Men die, on average, 5 years younger than women, and at any age men are more likely than women to die. The good news is that men can take action to help improve their health and live longer.

The top three causes of death for men in the United States are heart disease, cancer, and unintentional injury (92 percent of fatal workplace injuries happen to men). To help prevent these and other diseases to improve men's health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that men:

  • Get good sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, and not getting enough sleep is linked to many diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Not getting enough sleep can also affect mental health (depression) and can be responsible for accidents.
  • Toss out the tobacco. Quitting smoking lowers a person's risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. See the Michigan Tobacco QuitLine (https://michigan.quitlogix.org/) for more information and for help quitting. Men should also avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Move more. Adults should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (brisk walking, mowing the lawn, bicycling, etc.) each week and should also do full-body muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week.
  • Eat healthy. Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and limit sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Tame stress. Too much stress-so much that you feel overwhelmed or out of control-is harmful. Reduce stress by finding support, participating in social activities, and staying active. Avoid drugs and alcohol as ways to cope.

Men do not get physical exams nearly as often as women-the CDC suggests that they stay on top of their game by seeing a health care provider for regular checkups and vaccinations. Regular checkups are important because they allow men to "know their numbers" (blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and BMI) and talk with their health care provider about what the numbers mean and how often they should be checked. And, because some diseases don't have symptoms, seeing a health care provider is one way to lessen the chance of having a disease go unnoticed and untreated for too long. Along with seeing a health care provider regularly, if someone has chest pain or shortness of breath, is always thirsty, or is having problems with urination, he should see a health care provider right away.

In addition to taking care of their physical health, men also need to take care of their mental health. Fifteen percent of men will suffer from a mental illness, and men have a higher suicide death rate than women-suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for men. Men and their loved ones should keep an eye out for symptoms such as

  • increased substance use;
  • changes in mood, energy level, eating habits, or sleep;
  • feeling angry or sad for long periods of time; and
  • thinking or talking about hurting themselves.

Any of these can be symptoms of mental illness, depression, or even a physical disease. If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, he should talk to his health care provider or a mental health professional.

To support and raise awareness around men's health, participate in "Wear BLUE Friday" on June 16. To learn more about Men's Health Month and Week and how men can stay healthy, visit http://www.menshealthmonth.org/ and https://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/index.htm

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

Article posted on June 7th 2017. - Article Permalink

Second grade students tour ERMC

Students from Lockwood Elementary tour Eaton Rapids Medical Center.

Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) hosted nearly 300 local second graders from Eaton Rapids and Springport for tours of the hospital last week. The hospital has been conducting these student tours for more than 30 years, and in that time, the visits have evolved to better meet the health needs of the community and introduce the students to healthy habits. This year's visit included tours of the radiology department and HealthWorks Fitness Center, as well multiple health and wellness demonstrations led by staff and volunteers.

One of the favorite activities of the week was a hand washing demonstration that showed how easily germs can spread. Using a special lotion that illuminates under a black light, the students were encouraged to high-five and shake hands to illustrate the spread of germs, and then were shown the proper way to wash their hands. A healthy snack of rainbow fruits and vegetables was provided, along with a presentation from a dietitian to highlight the importance of healthy dietary choices. Each class spent an hour walking the facility and learning about important topics ranging from medication safety to understanding emotions and how to cope with anger.

The students also received a gift bag that included surgical masks, bonnets and gloves, and a coloring and activity book with a healthy lifestyle theme. The tour served as a fun and educational way for the students to recognize the importance of healthy choices, and allowed them the opportunity to explore areas of the hospital and get better acquainted with the healthcare system.

Article posted on May 31st 2017. - Article Permalink

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