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Summer Health Risks


Bug Bites and Stings

No matter how much care you take when you are outdoors, insect bites and stings are sometimes unavoidable. Hot summer weather and long days spent outside are the perfect combination for bug bites. But it may be difficult to figure out which type of bug was responsible. Here are some of the more common insects that cause bites and stings:


Mosquitoes are typically found near water and are attracted to bright colors and sweat. When a mosquito bites, the tell-tale sign is a small, red, itchy mound with a tiny puncture mark near the center. The West Nile virus is spread through bites from infected mosquitoes.

Key facts about the West Nile virus:

  • Usually, the West Nile virus causes no symptoms or only mild, flu-like symptoms.
  • The virus can cause life-threatening illnesses, such as encephalitis, meningitis, or meningoencephalitis.
  • There is no vaccine available to prevent West Nile virus, so it is important to avoid mosquito bites by:
    • Using insect repellent with DEET when you’re outdoors.
    • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.
    • Considering staying indoors during peak hours for mosquitoes (dawn, dusk, and early evening.)
    • Limiting mosquito breeding grounds by removing standing water sources.

Bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets

These insects are usually found near flowers, shrubs, picnic areas, or beaches. Their stings usually result in immediate pain, swelling, redness, and itching. The two greatest risks from most insect stings are allergic reactions and infections.

Contact your COPC physician if: the pain/itching doesn’t stop, you see signs of infection (increased redness, warmth, swelling, and fluid leaking), or you develop a fever.

You can reduce the possibility of stings by:

  • Not wearing scented products or brightly colored clothing
  • The virus can cause life-threatening illnesses, such as encephalitis, meningitis, or meningoencephalitis.
  • Wearing shoes when walking outside
  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible.
  • Spraying your clothing with insect repellent
  • Avoiding hives and nests
  • Calmly and slowly walking away when an insect is near you


Ticks are found in wooded areas and may be hidden in hair or on skin. Once a tick bites, it needs to be removed carefully with tweezers. Lyme disease is an infection that is caused by tick bites. To learn about this disease and how you can prevent it, click here.

Sun Safety

During the summer when people trade in their jackets and jeans for flip flops and bathing suits, more skin is exposed to the sun's harmful UV rays. From heat-related illnesses to eye damage, it's important to be proactive and take precautions.

Eye damage

  • During the summer, your exposure to UV radiation is much higher.
  • UV is an invisible form of radiation from sunlight.
  • Overexposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation causes damage to the skin and eyes.
  • You can damage the surface of your eyes in the same way you can get sunburned-with just one exposure to one reflection of extremely bright sunligh
  • Exposure to sunlight over years can lead to vision loss from cataracts or macular degeneration.
  • Precautions you can take include:
    • Not looking directly at the sun.
    • Wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from UVA and UVB rays when you are outside. Wear them even on cloudy days.
    • Wearing a hat to provide additional protection for not only your eyes, but also your skin. Wear it even on cloudy days.

Heat-related illnesses

When the days get hotter, keeping close tabs on your health becomes especially critical. Knowing how to beat the heat and recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses will help keep you and your family healthy!

Three of the most common types of heat-related illnesses are:

  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

To learn more about heat-related illnesses, contact your COPC physician or click here.

Keeping Foodborne Illness at Bay

When you're having a barbecue or picnic, be sure you don't invite foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella bacteria. Salmonella-caused illness (salmonellosis) is most common during the summer months because of warm temperatures, delayed refrigeration, and the types of foods people enjoy in the summer.

You can reduce your risk of foodborne illness by:

  • Preventing cross-contamination by always washing your hands after handling raw meat.
  • Keeping kitchen surfaces and utensils clean.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables before you cut or peel them.
  • Using separate cutting boards and knives for uncooked meats and uncooked produce.
  • Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Cooking food to recommended internal temperatures: whole meats 145 degrees Fahrenheit (F), ground meats 160 degrees F, and poultry 165 degrees F.
  • Refrigerating perishable food (including melon) within two hours. Throw away food that sits out longer than two hours.

Call your COPC healthcare provider if you think you or someone else has salmonellosis. The symptoms include: diarrhea and a fever over 101.5 degrees F, dehydration, bloody stools, diarrhea that lasts three or more days, and prolonged vomiting without being able to keep liquids down.

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