Podcast Title: Health and Safety to Go!

Episode #: 145:† Protection from Pesky Summer Pests

 


Introduction Welcome to Health and Safety to Go, broadcasting from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Host: Thanks for joining us. Todayís episode tackles how to keep yourself safe from pesky summer pests like mosquitos and ticks. It might start with something crawling down the back of your neck or an annoying bug bite. These unpleasant encounters with ticks and mosquitoes can lead to diseases such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus. If you work outdoors this summer, know what to look for and be on the alert for these pests.

Ticks have benefitted from a mild winter and their populations are on the rise this summer. Blacklegged ticks, also called deer ticks, can carry Lyme disease and live in forests, overgrown, leafy areas and near wooded areas. However, as their populations spread, itís possible to be bitten outside of these locations.

Tick bites are usually painless and can go unnoticed. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary and may initially resemble the flu,sore throat, fever, headaches, fatigue, congestion and stiffness. They can often include spasms or weakness, numbness or tingling, swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash that sometimes appears as a bullís eye with reddish rings spreading from the bite site.

Lyme disease is not always easy to recognize so itís important to consult your doctor if you think that you may have Lyme disease. In most cases antibiotics can effectively treat Lyme disease, especially when treatment begins early. Cases that reach the later stages of the disease, however, can be difficult to treat and sometimes can persist or reoccur.

Preventing contact with both ticks and mosquitoes starts with wearing light-coloured clothing: long-sleeved shirts, long pants tucked into socks, and a hat when possible. Employers should provide workers with repellents containing 20-30% DEET or Icaridin to use on their skin and clothing for protection against ticks and mosquitos.

After working outside, check for ticks on and under clothing, especially after being in areas where ticks may live. Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks. Wash and dry work clothes in a hot dryer to kill any ticks that may be present.

Removing ticks within 24-36 hours reduces your risk of infection with Lyme disease. Using needle-nose tweezers, firmly grasp the tick, as close to your skin as possible and pull the tick away from your skin with a steady motion without squeezing or twisting as this can cause the harmful bacteria to be released into the body. Clean the area with soap and water. Put the tick in a sealed container or double zip lock bag and bring the tick to your doctor or your local health unit office to be sent for testing for Lyme disease.

 

Ticks are not the only pests to be aware of this summer. Donít forget about mosquitos. †Along with the itch of those pesky mosquito bites comes the risk of infection with the West Nile virus. The key to reducing your risk of West Nile virus infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

West Nile virus is a microorganism carried by infected mosquitoes. The symptoms of West Nile virus infection can begin 2 to 15 days following the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of infections are mild and most people who become infected have no symptoms at all though some people may experience mild flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and rash. In rare cases, symptoms can be much more severe.

Mosquitoes are most active between the hours of dusk and dawn. So if you are outside during these times, cover up and use insect repellent. Removing any stagnant water from work areas will also help to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.

Toolbox talks and safety meetings are good opportunities to discuss Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, with employees and coworkers. The very important first step is to be on the alert for these summertime pests!

For more information about Lyme disease and West Nile virus, visit www.ccohs.ca.† Thanks for listening everyone.