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How to Avoid Summer's Health Woes

Experts explain strategies for preventing 6 common maladies from ruining your summer fun.
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Food-Borne Illnesses continued...

Finally, Harris says, "Keep your utensils and dishes that you use for raw meat separate from those you use to eat."

Warning signs. The warning signs of food-borne illness are the usual suspects, explains Harris: vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, or any combination of these not-so-pleasant symptoms.

"One of the mistakes people make is to assume that the last thing they ate is the cause of their symptoms," says Harris. "While some types of food-borne illnesses take two to six hours until symptoms appear, others take one or three days. So the culprit is not always the last thing you had, even though that's probably what came up."

What to do. Despite best efforts, if you fetch up with something you might suspect is food-borne, keep in mind, "Some food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli O157:H7, can be life-threatening, particularly for young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems," according to the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Symptoms that are severe or prolonged may need to be treated. People who believe they may have contracted a food-borne illness should call their physician."

Mosquito Bites

While mosquito bites used to be little more than annoying and itchy bumps on your arm or behind your ear, now we have even more reason to avoid them with things like West Nile virus and Triple E (Eastern equine encephalitis) making headlines.

How to avoid it. Your attack against a mosquito bite is three-pronged, according to the CDC's web site: "Use insect repellent, particularly those with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wear as much clothing as the warm weather will allow; and avoid the outdoors during dusk and dawn -- peak biting times."

Warning signs. Mosquito bites will appear as red, raised bumps on your skin. Worse, they'll itch.

What to do. Mosquito bites usually go away in less than a week, according to the web site of the University of Maryland Medical Center. In the meantime, you can wash the area and keep it clean, use an ice pack or a cool compress to alleviate itching, take an antihistamine, or use an anti-itching cream, such as calamine lotion.

Nearly 80% of people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. If you start to experience symptoms like fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back, according to the CDC's web site, see your doctor. There's a chance these could be symptoms of West Nile virus.

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