June 20, 2024

Protect your family from Zika infographic

Summer is here, along with outdoor fun and vacation travel plans. In addition to using sunscreen and bug spray, there are other essential steps you can take to stay healthy this summer and prevent infections that could spoil your summer fun. Here are 4 key steps to help ensure a safe and healthy summer:

1. Get Vaccinated

Before you travel, make sure you and your family are up to date on all recommended vaccines. Talk with a trusted healthcare professional and check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of international destinations where certain vaccines are recommended. Some countries require vaccines and may ask for proof of immunization before entry. Depending on where you go, vaccines against diseases like chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis (JE), typhoid, and yellow fever may be necessary. Diseases such as measles and polio, which are rare in the US, still pose risks in other parts of the world but vaccination helps protect you at home and wherever you may travel.

Staying current on vaccinations is also important if you plan to travel within the US. As of June 2024, more than 150 measles cases have been reported in 21 states. Vaccination remains the best way to help protect yourself and your family from measles.

2. Wash Your Hands

Girl washing hands with soap and waterHandwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent illnesses like norovirus, a common cause of gastroenteritis that can quickly ruin a vacation. Norovirus, often called food poisoning or a stomach bug, causes 19-21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea annually in the US, along with nearly 2.3 million outpatient visits. Proper handwashing can significantly reduce the risk of infection against norovirus and other diseases. Follow these steps each time you wash your hands to help ensure they are germ-free:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water
  • Lather with soap, covering all surfaces
  • Scrub well for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse thoroughly under clean, running water
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them

3. Protect against Mosquitoes

Older couple hiking with appropriate mosquito prevention steps

Mosquitoes can transmit diseases such as chikungunya, dengue, JE, malaria, and Zika. Whether you are traveling abroad or staying close to home, take measures to help prevent mosquito bites:

  • Use bug spray on exposed skin
  • Prevent standing water in drains, flowerpots, and other containers so that they do not become mosquito breeding sites
  • Use screens on windows and doors and stay in air conditioned places when traveling
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net when outside or in a room that does not have screens
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Cover water tanks so that mosquitoes cannot get in
  • Keep garbage in closed plastic bags and closed containers

4. Watch out for Ticks

The blacklegged tick that spreads Lyme diseaseTicks can spread Lyme disease and other illnesses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Powassan virus. The best defense against these diseases is to prevent tick bites:

  • Use bug spray on exposed skin
  • Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants (to make it easier to spot ticks if they land on you)
  • Check your body and clothing for ticks when you come indoors
  • Remove attached ticks as soon as possible
  • If you get a fever, rash, or other symptoms after a tick bite, talk with a trusted healthcare professional about antibiotics to help protect against Lyme disease

Additional Resources

Help raise awareness about disease prevention by sharing these NFID resources:

By following these simple steps, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable summer for you and your family …

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