We plan to jam in as much fun as possible this summer -- whether we’re at the beach, the pool, on a far-flung vacation or just chilling with a perfect pitcher of icy margaritas on our patio. But you know what can put a damper on living our best warm-weather lives? Getting sick. Here are three health issues to watch out for this summer and how to make sure you and your family firmly avoid them and get back to the good stuff.
What’s Going On: By now you’ve heard the news the measles epidemic sweeping the nation, with the highest number of cases being reported in 25 years, currently just under 1,000, fueled, in part, by the anti-vaxxer movement. Unfortunately, our neighbor to the north, Rockland County, has reported a serious spike in measles cases, recently declaring a scary state of emergency. And back in February a confirmed measles carrier may have exposed others to the disease in Bergen County, which, understandably, freaked us out.
What to Do: Make sure your kids are vaccinated, of course. That said, if you’ve got any tots who are too young to have yet received the second half of the MMR vaccine, you might want to skip visits to kid-heavy, crowed public places like theme parks.
What to Look For: The symptoms will initially look just like a cold or the flu, but with a potential high fever. A few days in, a rash will occur along with spots inside the mouth. If you have any concerns your child may have measles, see the doctor pronto.
What Next: There is no medication to treat measles but medical supervision along with fever-reducing medications, fluids, and rest – can ensure that complications don’t arise. After that, improvement can be expected in a week or so.
Candida Auris Fungus
What’s Going On: This one may not have the international fame of Measles, but it’s getting there. It’s basically a drug-resistant super bug that can be hard to pinpoint and cause serious illness. It’s mainly been found in health care facilities and nursing homes where it can wreak havoc since, once it’s in someone’s system, it can be hard to get rid of. The CDC says more than 600 cases have been reported in the U.S., with more than half of those in New York and 106 in New Jersey.
What to Do: If you have a family member in a hospital or nursing home (or if you or a loved one has plans to go in for a scheduled procedure), ask whether there have been any cases at that facility (unfortunately, NJ hospitals not currently required to report them to the health department) and find out which infection control precautions are being taken.
What to Look For: It’s tricky because the symptoms like fever, aches, and fatigue are pretty general and can be mistaken for other things. Those most at risk are people with weakened immune systems and those in hospital settings, often undergoing a treatment that involves a tube being inserted. Testing is required for proper diagnosis.
What Next: The disease is rather mysterious and still not tracked well enough, if you ask us. The good news is that most of us have a very low risk factor, so try not to sweat this one too much.
What’s Going On: We wish we could say same-old, same-old, but turns out tick-borne Lyme disease is getting frighteningly worse. As you probably know anyone, who is bitten by a tick – usually a deer or black-legged tick -- carrying the bacteria (known as Borrelia burgdorferi) can become infected with Lyme disease, which can cause life-long issues like arthritis, and problems with the heart and nervous system. While the CDC usually gets reports of 30,000 or so cases from around the country annually, 2017 clocked in with a whopping 42,000 cases. And thanks to a mild, wet winter, experts are predicting a surge of ticks here in the Tri-State area this summer.
What to Do: Lots of things. You can get tips from the New Jersey Department of Health here, put the main precautions to take are ones you probably already know, like avoiding dense wooded areas where ticks often lurk, keeping your lawn mowed and your trees trimmed, and covering yourself, your kids and your pets in DEET- based insect repellents.
What to Look For: First off, ticks. Check yourself and your kids often after outdoor activities and remove any ticks with tweezers without squeezing. If a tick bite has occurred, the tell-tale sign is a red bull’s-eye rash that pops up within a week or two. Other symptoms include fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headache, and stiff neck.
What Next: Antibiotic therapy can be quite successful if Lyme is diagnosed early. But the best plan of attack is diligence and making sure counselors and staffers at any camps or other activities your kids are participating in this summer have a tick-fighting plan of attack in place and know what to do if your child ends up with a tick. Keep in mind Lyme disease cannot be passed from person to person so if someone you know is diagnosed with Lyme disease you’re totally in the clear.