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News Briefs: GB first responders carrying Narcan; tick, mosquito safety tips

Great Barrington’s public safety professionals have worked in partnership with Fairview Hospital’s emergency department head Dr. Alec Belman to develop an ongoing training program to be administered annually by fire Chief Charles Burger and firefighter Lt. A.J. Anderson.

First responders now carrying Narcan to combat opioid overdoses

Great Barrington — Chief William Walsh has announced that the Great Barrington Police Department has joined with the Great Barrington Fire Department in carrying the life-saving overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Both agencies have been issued controlled-substance licenses by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, enabling them to carry the drug at all times in order to be prepared to treat opioid overdoses. Great Barrington’s public safety professionals have worked in partnership with Fairview Hospital’s emergency department head Dr. Alec Belman to develop an ongoing training program to be administered annually by fire Chief Charles Burger and firefighter Lt. A.J. Anderson.

Great Barrington police officers, who regularly respond to medical calls and are often the first to arrive on scene, have used Narcan to save five lives since they began carrying the drug in December. GBFD, which has carried Narcan for the past year, has also used it to save lives.

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Town reminds residents of tick, mosquito safety

Great Barrington — The Great Barrington Board of Health is reminding residents to protect themselves against illnesses transmitted from ticks and mosquitoes over the Fourth of July holiday and all summer long.

Ticks

Ticks are especially prevalent from April to September, but residents should remember that tick bites can happen any time of the year. Ticks hibernate during the winter months and look for a host to latch onto when temperatures rise. This year’s tick season is expected to be particularly bad due to higher-than-average temperatures this past winter.

To prevent contact with ticks and avoid tick-borne illnesses, the board of health recommends the following tips provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter; ticks wait in vegetation and attack from below.
  • Keep a tidy yard.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use repellant that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin, being sure to follow product instructions.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check areas carefully where ticks like to hide: between the toes, the backs of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline and behind the ears.
  • Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets and then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and gear.
  • If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Use a pair of fine-point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure.
  • You should not apply kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish or a hot match tip to remove the tick. These measures are not effective and may result in injury.
  • Circle the calendar date and note where on the body the tick was removed. You may want to save the tick for identification.
  • Your physician may choose to treat you following a deer tick bite. Notify your healthcare provider if you have been bitten by a deer tick or if you develop a rash or other signs of illness following a tick bite.

Common Symptoms of Tick-related Illnesses

If you have been bitten by a tick, the most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

  • Fever/chills: With all tick-borne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.
  • Aches and pains: Tick-borne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue and muscle aches. With Lyme disease, patients may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.
  • Rash: Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can all result in distinctive rashes.

Early recognition and treatment of these infections decreases the risk of serious complications. See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are most prevalent from May to August but remain active until the first time temperatures fall below freezing. In Massachusetts, mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis.

West Nile virus infections can cause fever, headache and body aches, with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands. A small number of people who are infected can develop a more serious illness, which can cause headaches, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma, paralysis, swelling of the brain and even death.

Symptoms of EEE include high fever, stiff neck, headache, and lack of energy. Encephalitis, the swelling of the brain, is the most dangerous complication of EEE and can cause coma and death. Residents should see their doctor if they develop any symptoms of West Nile virus or EEE.

The board of health encourages residents to follow these tips provided by Massachusetts Department of Public Health:

  • Use insect repellent with DEET any time you are outdoors. Be sure to follow the application directions on the label.
  • Be aware of peak mosquito hours, which are generally from dusk to dawn. When outdoors during peak mosquito hours, wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants, high socks, hats with netting to cover the face and any other clothing that will cover exposed skin.
  • Use mosquito netting around baby carriages or child playpens when your baby is outdoors.
  • Make sure screens are repaired and are tightly attached to doors and windows.
  • Remove standing water from places such as puddles, ditches, birdbaths and gutters, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

More information about mosquito and tick-related illnesses is available from CDC and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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