July 3, 2003
Charlotte, NC - The Fourth of July weekend brings picnics, fireworks and summer fun. The Mecklenburg County Health Department wants people to remember a few tips for staying healthy and safe this summer.
During the warm weather months, the major concerns are the threat of West Nile virus, water safety and making sure that school-age children are up-to-date with their immunizations.
"We are dedicated to protecting the public's health in a number of ways," said Health Director Peter Safir. "During the warm, summer months, we want to remind every resident to be safe and healthy by protecting themselves against illnesses spread by mosquitoes, practicing water safety habits, and getting your child ready for school by updating their shots."
WEST NILE -- West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals. About 20 percent of infected people will develop West Nile fever. The symptoms for West Nile fever are also fairly mild and include fever, headache, body aches and, occasionally, a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen glands. Symptoms usually last only a few days with no long-term health effects. Protect yourself against West Nile by taking these simple steps.
- Stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
- Use repellants containing DEET, and follow directions closely.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants.
- Eliminate standing water sources that may be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Keep window and door screens closed, in good repair and "bug tight."
WATER SAFETY - Water related injuries and fatalities rise during warm weather holidays for children and adults. Safety in pools and lakes is a major concern for older children, and bathtub safety is a concern for children under the age of five. Many injuries and fatalities also are due to boating accidents and inexperienced swimmers.
- Always swim with a partner or buddy.
- Supervise children around pools and bodies of water.
- Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation); it can be a lifesaver when seconds count.
- Never leave a baby alone in a bathtub or baby pool for even a second. Always keep the baby in arm's reach.
- Practice safe boating standards, and never drink while operating a boat.
BE WISE, IMMUNIZE - Last year in Mecklenburg County, almost 60 percent of kindergartners came to school without proof of being properly immunized. This year, students without shot records may not be admitted to school until they can show proof of immunizations. There are several places for parents and caregivers to get their child's immunization records up-to-date.
- Make an appointment with your primary-care physician.
- Come to the Mecklenburg County Health Department for FREE shots. Call for an appointment at 704-366-6500.
- Look for Big Shot Saturdays at Eastland Mall where free shots will be given.
As the warm weather continues, the Mecklenburg County Health Department will continue to monitor several key health and safety threats to people who live, work, and play in Mecklenburg County. For up-to-date information on topics of interest log onto
www.meckhealth.org and stay safe and healthy all year long.
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Media Contact: D.C. Lucchesi at 704-432-0344 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or Andy Fair at 704-432-0021 or