Bug bites part of summer camp

Consumer Reports suggests steps to avoid camp critters

SAN ANTONIO – Summer camp is a perfect setting for kids to enjoy the great outdoors. 

Unfortunately, campgrounds can be crawling with critters, which not only can be annoying but pose a health hazard. 

Consumer Reports says there are steps you can take to help ward off unwanted insects and parasites, which will keep your campers happy and healthy.

Mosquitoes are more than just an itchy annoyance. 

The bloodsuckers can carry a number of diseases, including the most-common illness, West Nile virus. 

Thousands of West Nile virus cases are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. 

Ticks can carry a number of diseases, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. 

Bug repellent is a camp essential. 

For the best protection against mosquitoes and ticks, Consumer Reports suggests looking for products that contain 15 percent to 30 percent DEET, which the CDC says is safe for children over 2 months old. Even though insect repellent is safe for children, only adults should apply it on the little ones.

Ticks are a particular danger in grassy or wooded areas. 

If your campers will be hiking or spending time in tall grass, it's best to keep them well-covered in long pants, socks and closed-toed shoes.

"Go ahead and tuck their pants into their socks, said Consumer Reports health editor Catherine Roberts. "And long sleeves are good."

As for natural repellents, Roberts said testing have found they generally offer very little protection.

Another creepy crawler -- lice -- is mostly spread through head-to-head contact.

"It takes just three or four seconds for a bug to spread from one person to the next," said lice expert Anna Krosche.

Making matters worse, a majority of lice are now resistant to many over the over-the-counter treatments. 

You'll have to comb out the nits and bugs, preferably with a metal comb. The tines should be very close. A plastic comb won't work as well," Krosche said.

And while there are products like shampoos or sprays that manufacturers claim will repel lice, Roberts said to save your money because there is little evidence they'll work.

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