Spring (and the illnesses associated with it) is here!

March 19th marked the first day of spring. With the longer days and warmer weather, we are all spending time more outdoors – enjoying a picnic, walking or hiking, attending a sporting event, or playing a sport ourselves! However, with the change in weather comes an increased risk for tick and mosquito bites, bee stings, GI illnesses, and allergies. Luckily there are prevention strategies that can be used to decrease the risk that these ailments will affect you and ruin your spring time fun.

Seasonal Allergies

 Spring brings pollen, ragweed, and other allergens. Allergy suffers may develop runny nose, nasal congestion, cough, and/or red, watery eyes. There are several actions you can take to reduce your exposure to allergens, including:

  • Limiting time outdoors
  • Using a HEPA filter inside to filter allergens
  • Showering/changing clothes after spending time outdoors
  • Taking allergy medication as prescribed
  • Keeping windows closed

It can sometimes be difficult to determine if your symptoms are due to allergies or a viral or bacterial infection. In that case, be sure to see your healthcare provider. Be sure to discuss appropriate allergy medication and doses with your child’s healthcare provider, as these may differ based on age and weight.

Ticks and Mosquitoes

Warmer weather also means spending more time outside, which puts us in contact with ticks and mosquitos. Many diseases can be transmitted via mosquito and tick, so it is important to avoid them. Prior to spending time in wooded or grassy areas, apply tick repellent to your skin, clothes, and shoes. Refer to CDC Preventing Tick Bites for more information, including how to remove ticks if you find any on your body. It’s important to use tick repellent on pets as well.  Mosquitos also transmit diseases. Prior to spending time outside, apply an insect repellent to skin and clothing, avoid standing bodies of water (where mosquitoes lay eggs), and wear long sleeves and pants when possible. Refer to EPA Insect Repellents for more information.

Gastrointestinal Illnesses

Springtime is picnic-time. Unfortunately, it’s also a time of food-borne illnesses. Improper handling of food, including undercooked food items or food left un-refrigerated for too long, often contributes to GI illnesses. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Luckily, most of these illnesses are short-lived, but some people may require medical attention. Viral illnesses, such as norovirus, are also abundant, and cause similar symptoms. Viral GI illnesses are very contagious and are often not killed with hand sanitizer alone. When handling or preparing food, caring for someone with vomiting or diarrhea, and after using the restroom, use soap and water to clean your hands.

Wasp and Bee Stings

Warm weather brings out the flying insects! Bees are often seen in grass and flowerbeds, while wasps build nests in trees, outbuildings, and garages. A sting from one of these fellows will cause pain and swelling at the site. If the stinger is still attached, remove it by scraping it with a hard edged item, such as a credit card (don’t tweeze or squeeze the stinger as that may cause more venom to release). Apply cool compresses or ice packs as needed. Some people may develop a large welt at the site of the sting that may itch or be painful. In the event that person stung develops difficulty breathing, tingling in the throat or mouth, vomiting, dizziness, or hives, seek immediate medical care, as these are signs of anaphylaxis. Those who have a known anaphylaxis to bee or wasp stings should carry an epi-pen at all times, and call 911 in the event that they need to use it. Avoid bee and wasp stings by knowing where they may be, avoiding the use of powerful perfumes or colognes, and not swatting at wasps should you see them.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pollen and your health. Cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/pollen-health.htm. March 21, 2024.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing tick bites on people. Cdc.gov/lyme/prev/on_people.html. March 21, 2024.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When and how to wash your hands. Cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html. March 21, 2024.

Repellents: Protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other arthropods. In EPA.gov. Retrieved March 21, 2024, from epa.gov/insect-repellents.