Summer is upon us, and the Wyoming Department of Health is urging residents to take steps to avoid mosquito and tick bites as well as waterborne diseases.

"We understand people may be more anxious this year than ever to get outdoors and have some fun, but there are still a few common sense choices that can help us stay healthy,” said Clay Van Houten, who manages the department's Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit.

Van Houten urges folks to follow the "5 Ds" -- Dawn and Dusk, Dress, Drain and Deet -- to defend themselves against West Nile, and take the following steps to avoid tick-related diseases such as tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever:

  • Apply insect repellents such as those containing 20 percent or more DEET and/or picaradin.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to see ticks crawling on clothing.
  • Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, search yourself and children for ticks and remove if found.
  • Check pets for ticks; use tick control products recommended by veterinarians.
  • Carefully handle live or dead potentially infected animals such as rabbits and rodents.

To avoid waterborne diseases such as cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis and shigellosis, Van Houten says "no one should drink untreated water such as from hot springs, lakes, rivers and streams even if it looks clear and clean."

He also urges swimmers follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid swimming when experiencing diarrhea.
  • Don't swallow swimming water and avoid getting water into the mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene including showering before swimming and washing hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Don’t pee or poop in the water.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after swimming and before eating.
  • Pay special attention to diaper and bathroom needs for young children.
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