Wellness briefly

Caution urged by DoH during tick season

BISMARCK Springtime and warm weather means people are spending more time outdoors and are more at risk for diseases spread by ticks. This tick season, the North Dakota Department of Health encourages residents to take measures to avoid tick bites and the potential for serious tick-borne diseases.

“Tick-borne diseases such as tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease can be prevented by taking some basic precautions to avoid tick bites,” said Alicia Lepp, epidemiologist with the state Division of Disease Control. “Areas that are heavily wooded or have tall grass or brush are more likely to be infested with ticks, especially between April and September, with the highest risk of disease transmission occurring during the warmer months.”

The Department of Health offers the following tips to help reduce the chance of ticks making contact with your skin: wear light-colored clothing to make the ticks easier to see; wear long pants and tuck the legs into your socks or boots; keep your shirt tucked in; apply insect repellent that contains DEET to your clothes and exposed skin and always follow label directions. Repellents that contain permethrin should be used only on clothing.

According to Lepp, the best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers to grasp it as closely to the skin as possible and gently pull upward with a steady, even pressure until it is free. Avoid crushing the tick during removal. Make sure to wash your hands with soap and the site of tick attachment with soap and water after removal.

Early detection and treatment of tick-borne illness is important to decrease the risk of serious complications, so people should seek medical care if they develop an illness suggestive of a tick-borne illness.

For more information on tick-borne diseases and tick bite prevention, call Alicia Lepp, N.D. Department of Health, at 328-2378 or visit (www.ndhealth.gov/disease/tickborne).

Jill Hambek

Children’s medical grants now available

BISMARCK The United Healthcare Children’s Foundation is seeking grant applications from families in need of financial assistance to help pay for their child’s health care treatments, services or equipment not covered, or fully covered, by their commercial health insurance plan.

Qualifying families can receive up to $5,000 per grant to help pay for medical services and equipment such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, counseling services, surgeries, prescriptions, wheelchairs, orthotics, eyeglasses and hearing aids.

To be eligible for a grant, children must be 16 years of age or younger. Families must meet economic guidelines, reside in the U.S. and have a commercial health insurance plan. Grants are available for medical expenses families have incurred 60 days prior to the date of application as well as for ongoing and future medical needs. Parents or legal guardians may apply for grants at (www.uhccf.org), and there is no application deadline. Organizations or private donors can make tax-deductible donations to UHCCF at the website. Donations are used for grants to help children and families in the region in which they are received.

In 2012, UHCCF awarded more than 1,300 grants, worth more than $4.1 million, to families across the U.S. for treatments associated with medical conditions such as cancer, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, hearing loss, autism, cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, ADHD and cerebral palsy. As successful fundraising efforts continue to grow, UHCCF is hoping to help more children and families in 2013.

Jill Hambek