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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: infectious disease

Health Experts Offer Prevention Tips

The Baltimore County Department of Health is announcing its first confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year. The infected individual died on Monday, August 24, from causes not related to West Nile Virus.

“West Nile Virus is an unfortunate, yet common disease that we expect to find in Marylanders this time of year," said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services. "To reduce the risk of getting infected, I encourage residents to W.R.A.P. up."

W.R.A.P. Up

“W.R.A.P. Up” prevention measures are: 

  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and hats, when concerned about mosquitoes.
  • Repair damaged window screens.
  • Avoid areas of high mosquito activity and unnecessary outdoor activities at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Purchase and use an EPA-registered insect repellent according to package directions.

WNV is a disease that is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected animal. In humans, WNV generally causes either no symptoms or mild, flu-like illness, but it can also be fatal. Persons older than 60 have the greatest risk of developing severe disease. People with compromised immune systems also may be at high risk of WNV infection.

Monitor Yards and Gardens

Residents are urged to monitor their own yards and gardens for standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Small amounts of water in a discarded can or container will support dozens of mosquitoes. To eliminate mosquito-breeding areas: 

  • Clean rain gutters to allow water to flow freely.
  • Empty or screen corrugated drain pipes.  
  • Remove old tires or drill drainage holes in tires used as playground equipment.
  • Turn over wading pools, wheelbarrows, wagons and carts when not in use. Flush water from the bottom of plant holders twice a week.
  • Replace water in birdbaths at least twice a week.
  • Turn garbage can lids upside down and make sure trash receptacles are empty of water.
  • Fix dripping faucets.
  • Aerate ornamental pools and water gardens or stock with fish and use a circulating filter system.

Spray Programs Offered

In an effort to reduce the WNV-infected mosquito population, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) will spray all communities within a one-mile radius of where the deceased person lived. MDA plans to post the affected communities at http://mda.maryland.gov/plants-pests/Pages/mosquito_control.aspx.

Communities interested in the spray program should send an email to the Environmental Health Services Office at ehs@baltimorecountymd.gov. Please note that mosquito control services cannot be provided within a community that has not enrolled in the program.

Information

To learn more about WNV, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


photo of kids on an indoor playgroundLinda S. Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health

Physical activity is important to your child’s health year-round, but staying active during the winter can be challenging.  While outdoor activities are good for kids, sometimes it is just too cold, windy and wet to be outside for long. 

There are lots of ways to keep your children active indoors. Keep in mind your child and his or her interests:

·        Turn on the music and dance! Let your child pick the music, make up moves and have a dance party.

·        Make an indoor obstacle course. In a basement or activity room, make tunnels to climb through by draping blankets on chairs or a table, use pillows, cushions, and stools for things to climb over, and include stations for activities like jumping rope, jumping jacks or hula hooping.  When they have mastered the course, time them to see if they can do it faster.

·        Develop a game or a competition.  Throw rolled up socks at a target on the wall or on a door or into an indoor basketball hoop for points or have a competition about who can do the most jumping jacks. 

·        Get an active board game or play a videogame which involves physical activity. Twister is clearly active, but even games that require some movement like Guesstures or Footloose can help burn some energy.

·        Consider a gym or indoor pool membership for the winter if the facility is child friendly.

·        Visit community resources – walking around a museum or visiting a science center or the B&O Railroad Museum provides some activity and a change of scenery.

·        Visit a mall and play a variant on “I Spy” – who can spot ten blue things first or find a red flower in a window.

·        Find an indoor playground or go roller skating. If a fee is required, it may be worth it for an active outing on a cold, wet weekend day.

Also, check out our recent blog about outdoor play ideas.

For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit kidshealth.org.


photo of boys building snowmanBy Linda S. Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health

Physical activity is important to your child’s health year-round but staying active during winter when the days are shorter and the temperatures colder can be challenging for adults and children alike.  Outdoor activities, except when exceptionally cold, continue to be good for children for a variety of reasons.

·        Contact with nature improves a child’s mental and physical health

·        Outdoor physical activity encourages use of a child’s imagination

·        Outdoor play helps foster collaborative play and the development of problem solving skills

·        The opportunity to spread infections is reduced since, in fresh air, children are not “rebreathing” the germs of the group

Generally children, when dressed appropriately, can safely play outdoors for at least limited periods of time anytime the windchill is above zero degrees Fahrenheit.  Under wet or windy conditions, the time a person can play comfortably outside is likely to be shorter.

The three layer approach to dressing seems to work best to stay warm.  This three layer approach should be accompanied by gloves or mittens to keep hands warm as well as a scarf and a hat (or a hood) to help protect the head and neck.  Boots are also a good idea if it is snowy or wet out.

Layer One:  An inner layer of fabric that will wick moisture away from the skin, such as polyester

Layer Two: Wool or fleece to provide some insulation

Layer Three:  A material that is wind and water repellent (nylon and Gore-Tex are good examples)

As your child is more active (and depending on the outdoor temperature and wind), he or she may need to unzip or even remove some of these layers to stay comfortable.

Some ideas for outdoor activity include:

A family walk where you make a game out of spotting different animals or decorations

Playing in the snow

Hide and Seek

Ice skating, sledding, skiing or snowboarding

For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit kidshealth.org.


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