Q: I’ve had to give up a lot of the activities I used to enjoy because of arthritis. The one thing I look forward to is planting in my raised garden beds. All the news about the EEE virus and Lyme disease makes me nervous. Should I be fearful about being outside during the warmer months?
A: Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, is a rare but serious disease caused by a virus. The transmission of the virus is a chain effect. A simplistic explanation is the virus grows in birds which live in freshwater swamps.
Mosquitoes feed on infected birds which in turn can then transmit the virus to humans and mammals.
Children and adults over the age of 50 are more susceptible to serious illness if they are bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.
Symptoms of EEE usually appear 3 to 10 days after a bite and include high fever, stiff neck, headaches and lack of energy.
Unfortunately at this time there is no known cure. Treatment of symptoms is the only option.
Spraying is taking place in some areas of the state where there is more potential for finding infected birds. Additional information can be found online at mass.gov/dph/mosquito.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection which comes from a deer tick bite. The most obvious clue of a bite is known as the Bull’s eye pattern rash, although not all people display the sign. Antibiotics are initially indicated for someone who has been bitten. It is highly recommended to shower within 2 hours after coming inside if you have been in an area of woods or high grass. Clothing should be put in a hot dryer to kill any pests which might be attached.
Prevention of possible bites from both mosquitoes and ticks are very much the same. Wear head covering, long sleeved shirts, long pants and tuck pant legs into boots or socks. Avoid outside activities from dusk to dark when mosquitoes are most active. Use DEET insect repellant, oil of eucalyptus, sprays containing pernethria or picaridin for protection.
You should be able to continue gardening — just take precautions.
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