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Avoid, Protect & Act to Prevent Illness from Bites or Scratches

Post Date:06/21/2016 10:00 a.m.
  • Contact Kelly Nettnin, BS, CSAPC, Communications Specialist
Everyone has something they love about summertime on the Outer Banks and at last that time of year has arrived. Warm weather accompanied by sunshine invites residents and visitors outside for walks, runs, hikes, camp fires, boating and beach days. 

As visitors begin to multiply in numbers, the pace increases for our local businesses. Before things get too busy, take some time to brush up on important seasonal safety habits that can protect your health and wellness. 

The Dare County Department of Health & Human Services wants residents and visitors to have a safe and enjoyable summer, and encourages residents to understand how they can play a role in preventing bites that may transmit illness to themselves or to loved ones. Animals and pests can carry and transmit diseases to humans through biting and scratching. 

Illness from bites or scratches can be prevented in a three step process: avoid, protect, and act. 

Step One: Avoid 
Avoid habitats that pests thrive in such as, wooded, bushy, high grass or leaf litter areas. Walk in the middle of trails when in a wooded area. Ticks live in moist, humid environments, and any non-flowing body of water present for more than a week is an ideal breeding site for mosquitos. Empty standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, and other containers on a weekly basis. 

Step Two: Protect 
Prevention measures are very similar for both mosquitoes and ticks. Use insect repellent with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol on exposed skin and clothing when outdoors. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks while outdoors to prevent bites. Shower, check your body and clothes for ticks, and remove if necessary once indoors. 

Animal bites or scratches from wild or domestic animals (mammals) including cats and dogs can transmit rabies to humans. Children are at greatest risk of being exposed to animals with rabies, and can be protected by being taught the concept of "Stranger Danger" pertains to humans and animals. 

Step Three: Act 
Act by reducing risk of rabies in family pets. Visit the veterinarian on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date. Pets should remain indoors or under supervision when outdoors to protect them from exposure to other animals. 

If a bite or scratch occurs, immediately wash the wound(s) thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention. Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. When a dog bite occurs in Dare County, the SPCA should be contacted in order so that they can make any required notifications and arrange for isolation or quarantine in compliance with the North Carolina General Statutes and applicable Dare County Ordinances. The bite should be reported by the healthcare provider to Dare County Department of Health & Human Services. 

Remember three steps to prevent illness related to animal or pest bites: Avoid, Protect, & Act. Please contact The Dare County Department of Health & Human Services at 252.475.5003 for more information. 
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