Health Events & News

« All

Summertime Illnesses, Diseases, and Skin Care

“In the state of Iowa, influenza and COVID are topics we’ve been talking about forever, it seems like. Those cases are very low. Now, we’re taking a look at vector-borne illnesses. There’s a lot of mosquitoes and ticks and there’s a great deal of concern about that.”

That’s Heather Rasmussen, Chief Quality and Ancillary Services Officer at CCMH.

“When we talk about vector-borne illnesses, it focuses primarily on living organisms that can transmit infectious pathogens between humans, or from animals to animals. Many times, these are blood-sucking insects or ticks. For example, it could be mosquitoes. They ingest disease-producing microorganisms during the meal that they’re having on the infected human or animal. And then from there, the mosquito becomes infected. The mosquito then infects another human or another animal. They bite, they get infected, and then it spreads from there.”

Rasmussen says it’s a matter of protecting yourself during the summer months when you’re outside, whether for walks or other fun summertime activities.

“The only real preventative for repelling insects is a bug spray. The most effective sprays have DEET as an ingredient. Insect repellents containing DEET are effective, safe, and do not present a health concern for humans.”

There are other precautions that can help limit exposure to mosquitos.

“Mosquitoes love standing water. If you have a bird bath close to your home or, with all the rain we’re getting, there are puddles, you can remove or eliminate the standing water. Another suggestion is to look at the screens on your home. If there are holes, repair your screens. If you have shrubbery around your house or weeds or other plantings, keep those trimmed back. And then when you do go outside, wear light color clothes and use an insect repellent that does have DEET in it, because that’s what repels the mosquitoes.”

One of the more highly recognizable diseases carried by mosquitos is West Nile virus.

“There is West Nile in Iowa. I haven’t heard that there have been any reported cases in Crawford County so far this year. Nonetheless, in the past, we’ve had West Nile, and we do get that reported from time to time.”

Ticks are another carrier for disease according to Rasmussen.

“One of the diseases most people are familiar is Lyme disease. Lyme disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Typically, the symptoms for West Nile and Lyme disease are pretty similar — fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue. With Lyme disease, you get a circular rash that often looks like a bullseye. If you see that bullseye rash, you need to get in to see your provider. In Lyme disease, a tick typically has to be attached for more than 24 hours to spread it to a human host. Lyme disease is different than West Nile. West Nile is a virus, but Lyme disease is a bacteria that can be treated with antibiotics.

“As with mosquitoes, if you’re going for a walk at a park, or nature preserve, or trail, stay on the path. If you take along your pet, treat your animals for mosquitoes and ticks. Be mindful of where you are. If you have to be in weeds or bushes, when you get home, check yourself for ticks. Ticks usually can be found on your head or behind your ears. Check your armpits, around your waistband and around your ankles. If you see a tick on you, remove the tick carefully.  After you remove the tick, thoroughly clean the area with soap and water, or by using rubbing alcohol. Then dispose of the tick by submersing it in alcohol, putting it into a bag or sealed container. Wrap it tightly, then flush it down the toilet. Don’t ever try to handle a tick with your fingers. Don’t try to pull it out with just your fingertips. Always use some tweezers.”

Be sure to dress appropriately for your surroundings, Rasmussen noted.

“If you’re going to be in the woods, you need to wear a hat. Wear long sleeves, wear pants, use the insect repellent. Just be mindful where you’re going and protect yourself accordingly.”

Other illnesses can be contracted while swimming in rivers and lakes.

“Wherever you’re going to swim, check to make sure it’s okay based off of what the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is telling you. There’s blue green algae, shigella, there’s e-coli that you can get, especially children if they’re going to be swimming in rivers or lakes. Be careful not to ingest the water. And then definitely when you’re done for the day, go take a shower and clean up well.”

Summertime also brings skin damage from spending too much time in the sun. Rasmussen says while some people think a tan makes you look healthy, that is a myth.

“If you have a tan, your skin is already damaged. If you’re going to be in the sun, you need to wear sunscreen. Most definitely SPF 30 or higher. Just because you apply sunscreen at 10 in the morning doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reapply it at noon. If you can, avoid the sun between 10 am and 2 pm when the UV rays are most dangerous. Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect your head and ears. Again, wear long sleeves and pants. Heat exhaustion or heat stroke is not a fun thing and it is dangerous. So if you feel like you’re getting hot, get to a cool place quickly and stay hydrated.”



Call us at 712.265.2500 or fill out the form below.

"*" indicates required fields

This contact form is designed for general inquiries and not intended for urgent matters or medical advice. If you are seeking answers to a medical question, please contact your medical provider or call the hospital operator at 712.265.2500