Lincoln County Public Health Nurse: Preventing illness during your summer vacations

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Summer has arrived and with it for many families comes the time of year to pack up the camper or RV and hit the road. To avoid having your summer vacation ruined by illness, Lincoln County Public Health has some tips to help you stay healthy and free of disease during your summer travels.

Regardless if you are traveling across state lines or are just making a quick trip to the lake, illness and disease are all around and may turn your dream summer into a miserable experience. During this time of year, certain diseases are more likely to be acquired due to normal summer activities.

If you are traveling then you are more likely to be exposed to the following illnesses and diseases:

•Giardia and Campylobacteriosis: Causes extreme diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain; Can get from drinking out of streams, rivers or lakes.

•Salmonella, E.Coli, Norovirus, and Hepatitis A: Causes violent diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain; Can get by eating contaminated foods or food that has been improperly chilled or cooked.

•Tetanus: Causes muscle spasms, contractures, respiratory failure and death; Can get through punctures, wounds and burns.

•Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Causes rash, joint pain, weakness and coma; Transmitted by tick bites.

•Rabies exposure: Causes fever, headache, paralysis and death; Can get by touching or being bitten by infected animals like bats or skunks.

•Respiratory infections, colds, and vaccine preventable diseases: Causes coughing, fever, sore throat and headache; Can get from person to person in highly populated areas like airports and theme parks.

These are just a few of the most common illnesses that are acquired during the summer months. Like with any disease, prevention is extremely important.

To prevent these diseases, make sure you follow these guidelines:

•Wash your hands often; particularly before cooking, after using the bathroom and after being in congested or crowded places.

•Carry hand sanitizer or cleansing wipes to use between hand washing.

•Don’t drink from untreated water sources like lakes, rivers, streams or unknown water sources.

•Maintain proper food handling practices like washing hands, keep food cold and cooking food completely.

•Get vaccinated against Tetanus at least two weeks before traveling to maintain immunity from infection. Adults should be vaccinated every 10 years.

•Wear protective clothing and use bug sprays to prevent tick bites. Always properly remove a burrowed tick immediately.

•Do not feed, entice, or try to pet wild animals, as they may bite you. If you see an animal behaving strangely, avoid it and report it to local animal control.

•Drink lots of fluids, about 10-12 cups a day, to avoid dehydration. Healthy fluids include water, tea and 100 percent fruit juices. Avoid sugary drinks like soda and energy drinks.

•Eat as healthy as you can to maintain a strong immune system.

•Make sure your family is current on their vaccinations at least two weeks before traveling.

•If you are unvaccinated, avoid states or countries with epidemics of diseases.

If you have further questions about these diseases or how to prevent them, call Lincoln County Public Health at 406-283-2447.

It is highly recommended that all persons carry their complete vaccination record with them when they travel, even if you are staying within the United States.

If you need to check your family’s vaccination records, need to get a copy, or would like to get vaccinated before your trip, call our nurse at 406-283-2447.

Riley Black is public health nurse for Lincoln County.

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