Tips on Staying Safe from Summer Illnesses

June 30, 2023

The summer is a great time to be outdoors with family, soak up the sun and enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer. However, it is important to always be prepared and be aware of our surroundings. From ticks to bacteria in the water, there are a lot of pesky parasites that can put a damper on summertime fun. 

“No matter if you are in the water or in the woods, you want to make sure you protect yourself from ticks and any other possible water-borne infections,” said Dr. Christopher Ohl, an infectious disease expert at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “It’s important to never drink untreated water in springs or streams and to be aware that ticks can often be found in wooded or grassy areas.”

Ohl suggests the following tips:

  • Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET on skin or clothing to repel ticks for several hours. Make sure to avoid the hands, eyes and mouth.
  • Carefully check for ticks after being outdoors. Ticks found in North Carolina can transmit various diseases, including Lyme disease, and they can often hide in areas of the body such as the scalp, groin or armpits.
  • Freshwater lakes and streams can harbor leptospirosis, a bacterium excreted in the urine of mammals that drink from the water. Infection can cause fever with headache or muscle aches, but usually can be treated. To prevent infection, just do not swallow the water.
  • To avoid contracting Naegleria, a rare but deadly brain-eating amoeba that is almost impossible to treat, do not jump feet first into a warm, stagnant pond, especially during a very dry summer. Jumping feet first into a pond can forcefully push water up into the top of the nose where there is a bone plate with tiny holes that the amoeba can crawl through to get into the brain.

“Taking some of these precautions can go a long way in making sure we keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy this summer,” Ohl said.

Media Contacts: Jenna Kurzyna,; Joe McCloskey,