The Doctors: Current Drought Can Affect Your Health
More than half of the United States is suffering through one of the worst droughts of the century. It was a poor year for sweet corn, which will in turn drive up the cost of animal feed, which will raise prices at the supermarket.
Only eight states were not affected by the drought–Alaska, Washington, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont. According to Dr. Travis Stork, extreme drought can affect your health in many different ways.
The Doctors: Poor Air Quality Tips
One of these is poor air quality – the soil is dry, there’s dust in the air and there are more wildfires. There are some prevention tips:
- Stay indoors with the windows closed
- Talk to your doctor about over the counter antihistamines
- Asthma medication – if you have asthma it’s important to keep it in control
- Use an air purifier
- Check your local air quality before going inside
The Doctors: West Nile Virus Active in United States
Another effect of the drought is insect-borne illness. Across the country, the West Nile Virus is making headlines. After nine deaths and 200 sick, Dallas County declared a state of emergency and sprayed their air for three nights in a row.
Dr. Stork said that the reason why there are more mosquitos in a drought is because there is more stagnant, standing water. Dr. Jim Sears said that rivers and lakes dry up and leave little pools that become home to mosquitos.
Every time a mosquito bites you, it’s taking blood from you and injecting some of it’s saliva. You body’s reaction to the saliva is why you get a red, raised, itchy bump. Mosquitos can transmit illnesses when they take your blood and then go bite someone else.
The Doctors: West Nile Virus Prevention Tips
Experts think that mosquitos bite birds carrying the virus and then bite humans, transferring West Nile. Some prevention tips are:
- Use repellent products containing DEET
- Eliminate any standing water around your home, no matter how small
- Minimize the amount of exposed skin – Dr. Stork said that if he knows he’ll be around mosquitos, he’ll wear lightweight clothing that covers his arms and legs
The Doctors: No Treatment for West Nile
Dr. Nick Zenarosa, Director of Emergency Services for Baylor Health Care in Dallas, called in to The Doctors. He said they’ve seen more than 300 reported cases so far this year in Texas, with the majority in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
According to Dr. Zenarosa, there’s unfortunately no treatment for West Nile. Most people get better by staying hydrated and taking things like Motrin or Tylenol. He said the most important thing you can do is prevention.
Dr. Stork said to stay indoors during dawn and dusk because that’s when mosquitos go on their feeding frenzy.