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Tuesday, 10 April 2018 00:43

Preventing Tick-borne Illnesses

With the arrival of warm summer weather in Minnesota comes the increased risk for diseases spread by mosquitos, ticks and fleas. Minnesota is a particularly high risk state for tick-borne diseases, with the second highest number of disease cases. Between 2004 and 2016, there were 26,886 tick-borne disease cases in Minnesota, according to CDC data. While Lyme Disease is the most common disease spread by ticks, spotted fever rickettsioses, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis/ehrlichiosis have all seen cases rise in the last decade.

Ticks

Here are some tips for reducing your risk of contracting tick-borne illnesses.

  • Avoid walking through heavily wooded areas by staying on cleared paths.
  • Light colored clothing will allow you to better spot and remove wood ticks.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pant legs.
  • Apply repellents containing DEET to prevent ticks from attaching.
  • Check for ticks on your body and clothing after returning from wooded, brushy, or tall, grassy areas and remove any ticks you find on you, your child or your pet.
  • Because young ticks are very small, around the size of a poppyseed, have someone chek hard to reach areas, particularly on areas of the body where hair is present, making it difficult to see ticks.
  • Shower after being in an area with ticks, and promptly put clothes in a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.
  • Use tick prevention products for your pet dogs and cats.

If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don't remember having a tick bite.

Published in Blog

In Minnesota we sometimes joke that the mosquito is the state bird. While the number of mosquitoes actually capable of causing infection in humans is fairly small, it is important to take preventive steps to protect you and your family from potentially serious diseases. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention today, it is not a threat in the northern part of the U.S. The two most serious mosquito-born diseases found in Minnesota are West Nile virus and La Crosse Encephalitis

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is found in all lower 48 states and was first discovered in Minnesota in 2002. It remains a public health threat because the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in some people. Thankfully, most bites by infected mosquitoes result in no symptoms or only mild illness.

The typical incubation period for West Nile is 2-6 days, although it can be as long as 15 days. West Nile fever symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever (usually greater than 102°F)
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Backache
  • Joint pain
  • Prominent muscle aches and weakness
  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Rash (more commonly associated with West Nile fever than encephalitis)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

La Crosse Encephalitis

Like West Nile, La Crosse Encephalitis (LAC) is a virus. Most people infected with this virus will have either no symptoms or a mild flu-like illness. A small percentage of people (especially children) may develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Most of the severe cases start with headache, fever, nausea, and lethargy. The illness may rapidly progress into disorientation, seizures, and coma. There is no treatment for the illness other than supportive care until the illness is over.


The Minnesota Department of Health Offers These Prevention Tips

  1. Because mosquitos can breed in only a small amount of water, check your yard to ensure there are no containers like old buckets, tires, kid's pools or other containers that can collect water. Remove the containers or turn them upside down.
  2. The riskiest time of year for mosquitos in Minnesota is mid-summer through early fall as disease-carrying mosquitoes are more common at this time of year and the viruses that cause disease have had time to become widespread in these mosquitoes.
  3. Wear mosquito repellent containing DEET (up to 30%).
  4. Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age.
  5. Apply repellents containing permethrin to your clothing or gear. Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  6. Other alternatives are available, including picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  7. Only use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  8. Wear loose fitting, light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants. Head nets can also be used in areas with high mosquito populations.


For more information on mosquito-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 20:30

Are You At Risk For Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes, less commonly called adult-onset diabetes, makes up about 95 percent of all diabetes cases. While more common in middle age and older adults, it can also occur during childhood. Being overweight and inactive are the main risk factors for developing diabetes, but there are many other risk factors, including:

  • Being 45 or older
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander American
  • Having blood pressure
  • Having high cholesterol
  • Having a history of cardiovascular disease

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body does not make or use insulin efficiently. Insulin is a hormone that allows your cells to process glucose for energy. When there is too much glucose in your blood it can lead to serious health problems affecting your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, and gums and teeth. Because a person can have Type 2 Diabetes for years and not know it, it's important to recognize the often subtle onset of one or more of the following symptoms and see your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst, especially at night
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss without reducing caloric intake.
  • Feeling tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Sores that are slow to heal

Have questions about diabetes? Talk with your doctor. They can help access your risk and perform blood tests to determine if you have diabetes or are at increased risk. 

Published in Blog