Health Watch -- Warm Weather Worries (Part 1)

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Warmer weather means outdoor fun - but take precautions against warm-weather worries.

The weather is warming and spring is almost here. That means it's time to get outdoors and enjoy nature, whether you're working in your garden, hiking, camping or just spending more time outside. Unfortunately, we're not the only ones becoming more active.

One health hazard that starts to become an issue in warmer weather is Lyme disease. This is a bacterial infection spread by ticks that affects about 16,000 Americans every year. The disease is seldom fatal, but it can cause painful, swollen joints - a condition that may become chronic.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say the best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by a tick. If you're going to be outdoors in areas where you might encounter ticks, wear long pants tucked into socks or boots and long-sleeved shirts. An insect repellent containing DEET will help keep ticks away from you.

After you've been outdoors, inspect your body thoroughly for any ticks that may have attached themselves to you.


March 2004