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It’s Summertime – Protect Yourself from Insects and the Diseases They Carry

mosquito on skin

Summer is the perfect season for spending time in the garden, relaxing at the beach and admiring sunsets. It's also the time of year when insects are especially active.

Transplant patients need to think carefully about a wide range of infection risks in their daily lives, and insects like ticks and mosquitoes pose potential dangers during summer months.

What You Need to Know

The Penn Transplant Institute cautions patients to protect themselves against infections carried by ticks and mosquitoes, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, West Nile virus and Powassan virus. These infections may be found in the Northeastern United States, including the Delaware Valley, New Jersey and Delaware.

Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and Powassan virus are infections carried by ticks, a tiny tick that may be difficult to see without a magnifying glass. They can be associated with fevers, rashes, low blood counts and occasionally meningitis/encephalitis (infections of the nervous system).

West Nile Virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitoes that can potentially cause severe infection in transplant recipients including meningitis/encephalitis.

How to Protect Yourself

Transplant patients can protect themselves by always taking simple precautions.

When you’re outdoors, take these steps:

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and reapply as directed on the container. Acceptable insect repellents are those that contain one of the following ingredients:
    • DEET
    • Picaridin
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
    • Para-methane-diol (PMD)
    • 2-undecanone
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Use screens on windows and doors.
  • Avoid standing water to limit mosquito exposure.
    • Once per week, empty and scrub, turn over, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers.
  • Avoid contact with ticks.
    • Ticks live in grassy, brushy or wooded areas. They can also live on animals, so be aware that spending time outside could bring you in close contact with ticks. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
    • Walk in the center of trails.
    • If you are planning an activity that may increase your risk of tick exposure, you can treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

When you come indoors, it's important to take the following precautions:

  • Check your clothing for ticks.
  • Examine gear and pets for ticks.
  • Shower within 2 hours after being outdoors. This will help to wash off unattached ticks, and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
  • Do a full-body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas. It may be helpful to use a full-length mirror to check everywhere, including:
    • In and around your ears
    • Inside your belly button
    • The back of your knees
    • In and around your hair
    • Between your legs
    • Around your waist
    • Under your arms
  • If you develop a fever, rash, new or worsening fatigue, or severe headache, please promptly call your transplant team to avoid complications. In addition, your transplant team is available to answer questions any time at myPennMedicine or by calling 800-789-7366

About this Blog

The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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