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Are you prepared to Fight the Bite?

• May 28, 2017 at 8:09 PM

It’s time to venture outside for fun in the sun, but the Tennessee Department of Health has a cautionary request: “Fight the Bite.”

Ticks and mosquitoes are out in force and looking for food. Their meal of choice? Blood. And their bites create opportunities to spread a variety of serious illnesses such as the Zika virus, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus and the Chikungunya virus.

“For many people, a bite from a mosquito or tick won’t cause much more than an itchy, irritating spot on the skin or sometimes mild, flu-like symptoms,” said TDH Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner. “But for others, a bite can cause a serious illness with major consequences like severe pain, long-term or permanent nerve and brain damage and even death.

“At this time of year, ‘Fight the Bite’ strategies are essential in reducing risk of infection and in preventing the potential spread of disease in communities.”

Ticks often wait in tall grass or on bushes and similar vegetation for their next food source to arrive. Though they don’t fly, they can attach to people when they brush against plants and trees. People can also get ticks from their pets.

In Tennessee, the most dangerous illnesses spread by ticks are Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis, the TDH says. In 2016, there were 581 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the state; from 2004-14, there were 16 deaths attributed to Rocky Mountain spotted fever in Tennessee.

To prevent such illnesses, you must avoid tick bites, promptly remove ticks that do get on the skin, and seek medical care for a fever or rash after a possible tick bite.

All common tick-borne diseases found in Tennessee can be easily treated with antibiotics if detected early. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doxycycline is the most effective treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis and is the antibiotic recommended for the treatment of most tick-borne diseases in patients of all ages.

Keeping grass trimmed and plants cropped around the home is a good practice to prevent ticks. Wearing long sleeves and long pants, using FDA-approved insect repellents and treating clothing with permethrin (a medication and insecticide sold under the brand name Nix, among others) can help prevent bites.

Tennessee has already recorded two cases of West Nile virus in 2017, which is unusual this early in the year, the TDH says.

And the department continues to be concerned about the spread of the Zika virus. While most people infected with the virus have very mild symptoms, infection during pregnancy can cause severe problems with the baby. In 2016, more than five dozen people in Tennessee were infected with Zika while traveling to other countries where the disease is common.

“Many of us think of mosquitoes as minor nuisances, when in fact they are among humanity’s most serious enemies, causing numerous deaths every year around the world,” said Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, director of the TDH Vector-Borne Disease Program. “All species of mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs, so removal or treatment of standing water near homes and businesses are among the most important steps we can take to protect ourselves and our communities from the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses.”

HSAAP accepting fishing applications through Thursday

Through June 1, Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Kingsport is accepting applications from the general public for a chance to fish the restricted section of the Holston River within the installation’s boundaries.

Four one-day fishing events are scheduled for June 24 and 25 and July 1 and 2. Individuals interested in fishing on HSAAP must apply for the opportunity and will be selected by a random drawing.

Applications are available online at holstonwildlife.webs.com or may be requested by mail by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Holston Army Ammunition Plant

Attn: Fishing Information

4509 West Stone Drive

Kingsport, TN 37660

For more information, contact Bruce Cole, the HSAAP natural resources manager, at (423) 578-6276.

Head to Warriors for National Trails Day

National Trails Day is Saturday, June 3 and Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport is celebrating it with the “Wahoo Hike.”

The 4-mile hike, which runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., offers nature discovery and local history along an official National Recreation Trail.

Participants should come dressed for the weather and for hiking over some rocky and uneven terrain. Hikers also should bring along water and a snack.

Meet at the park’s mountain bike trail parking lot.

Monday Night Shoot-Out coming up

Tri-Cities Friends of NRA will hold a Monday Night Shoot-Out event on June 5, beginning at 6 p.m., at Shooters Edge in Piney Flats.

Firearms, ammunition and targets will be provided along with food and prizes for the winning team. Cost is $100 per person, and shooters will compete in teams of four.

Shooters Edge is located at 413 Century Court in Piney Flats.

For more information on the event or to register contact Josh Donihe at (423) 341-7454, Rev. Jay Mills at (423) 276-5045 or email jsdonihe@charter.net. For more on Friends of NRA, go online at friendsofnra.org.