Heading outdoors this spring? These simple tips can make it enjoyable

The spring season sends many outdoors to enjoy warmer weather and sunny skies.

But spring also attracts critters waking up from a long winter’s slumber and breeds new bugs with its seasonal rains.

As gardeners busy themselves with prepping landscapes or planning picnics and evening strolls, it’s important to keep an eye out for snakes.

Copperheads are a common find in portions of North Texas, particularly with the easy access many homes have to pockets of rural landscapes and lakes. The combination is enticing to the venomous species.

Copperheads sport reddish-brown crossbands on a lighter colored body and can be found in rocky areas and wooded bottomlands in damp areas. In spring, they are often spotted along streams and rivers.

Texas is home to more than 105 different species and subspecies of snakes but only 4 are potentially dangerous to humans, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife. As suburban sprawl encroaches into their habitat the incidence of snakebites will grow.

Last year, local news outlets reported a surge in snakebites across North Texas with 25 incidents as of mid-April. Last May, a toddler was bitten by a copperhead snake on the playground of a Granbury daycare. Lantana residents have reported finding copperheads along trails at least since 2010. Officials remind residents each year to stay alert and have hired snake removal businesses to help curb their proliferation.

First aid steps following a snake bite include cleaning the wound, immobilizing the affected area and keeping the injured individual calm. It is important to seek immediate treatment with a medical facility such as Rapid Med Urgent Care Center.

Another sign of the spring season is the imminent arrival of allergies to pollen, mold, dust, insects and other natural elements. Allergies are prevalent in North Texas, which is the epi-center of several types of soil, bringing a large range of flowering plants and trees. It also attracts insects like wasps and bees.

Last year’s warm winter triggered almost year-round allergies. And the warming trend continued this winter.  While over-the-counter allergy medicine can provide relief, it’s always a good idea to consult with a physician if symptoms worsen.

The seasonal rain this time of year creates the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. With the migration of birds infected with West Nile Virus, mosquitoes bite the birds and become carriers, spreading it to humans and other mammals. Zika virus, which has made its presence in North Texas recently, is spread through the bite of an Aedes species mosquito.

According to the Denton County Health Department, a total of 20 people were infected with the West Nile Virus in 2016. This year, one person has contracted the Zika virus, according to the health department.

As the spring rains continue and days become warmer, the following tips from the Denton County Health Department can reduce your exposure to mosquitoes:

  • DRAIN standing water in your yard and neighborhood to cut mosquito breeding sites (old tires, flowerpots, and clogged rain gutters).
  • DUSK & DAWN are the times of day you should try to stay indoors; this is when mosquitoes are most active.
  • DRESS in long sleeves and pants when you’re outside, and spray thin clothing with repellent.
  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is an ingredient to look for in your insect repellent (check for 10-30%).

If you experience symptoms after suffering from a mosquito bite, please stop by your local Rapid Med Urgent Care Center.

Despite the hazards of the North Texas spring, it is the perfect time to be outdoors. Taking these precautions and addressing any medical emergencies that arise can make this season an enjoyable one for you and your family.

Dr. Gomez
Dr. John Gomez was born in Venezuela but spent most of his childhood in Texas, his father a Spaniard and mother American. After working a few years as a full time emergency physician in a few hospitals, Dr. Gomez noted and came to dislike the inefficiencies and near total lack of personalization required to practice the best medicine. He developed a perspective that medical care, even when an emergency, should be patient centered and streamlined and it was with this vision that he began Rapid-Med. Dr. Gomez maintains a special interest in ultrasound and sports medicine with emphasis on concussion management. He currently serves on the L.I.S.D. Concussion Oversight Team (COT) as physician advisor and enjoys his close relationship with the local athletic trainers and Flower Mound High School.
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