This isn’t a topic I enjoy writing about…I don’t even like to THINK about ticks. But warm weather is upon us and that means it’s tick season. Here are some tick tips.
Lyme disease, a bacterial infection spread by certain kinds of ticks, can cause serious complications if not treated early and properly. Though the risk of contracting Lyme disease is relatively low, it is always helpful to be prepared and protected.
Most often Lyme disease comes from contact with a deer tick that has feasted off another infected animal. If an infected tick bites, it can stay attached to the skin for 36 to 48 hours, and the bacteria is transferred into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body.
Signs & Symptoms
There are three stages of Lyme disease:
• Early localized Lyme disease—A rash develops at the site of the bite within 1 to 31 days. It resembles a bull’s-eye, and slowly expands and grows, followed by flu-like symptoms.
• Early disseminated Lyme disease—This is when skin, joint, nervous system and heart complications can begin.
• Late persistent Lyme disease—Development of severe joint, nervous system and heart complications.
Symptoms of Lyme disease are somewhat vague and similar to other conditions, so it is often overlooked and untreated. Unfortunately, that means it can be difficult to cure. Reducing your risk is your best defense against Lyme disease. Here are preventive measures to help reduce your chances of tick bites and Lyme disease:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when in wooded areas, and tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
• Wear light-colored clothing to make identifying ticks easier.
• Spray yourself with insect repellent that contains DEET.
• Walk in the center of trails to avoid overhanging trees or bushes.
• Wash your body and clothing after all outdoor activities.
• Look periodically for ticks if you have been in bushy areas or working in a garden.
• Avoid sitting on the ground.
• Keep long hair tied back.
• Stack woodpiles neatly, off the ground and in a dry location.
• Remove ticks promptly.
• Remember to also check your dog’s coat if he or she has been in a possible tick-infested area as well. Animals can also contract Lyme disease.
Remember, in the case of a tick bite, bacteria do not transmit Lyme disease to your blood stream for about 36 to 48 hours. Your chance of contracting Lyme disease greatly decreases if you remove a tick within 24 hours. Removing a tick is not too difficult. Using a good pair of fine-tip scissors or tweezers, follow this process for removing an attached tick from your skin:
• Grab the tick firmly where it entered the skin. Do not squeeze the tick’s body as it could cause bacteria to inject into your skin.
• Slowly and firmly pull the tick directly outward. Do not try to twist it out, that could break the tick in half, leaving half still in your skin.
• Once removed, clean the bite with an antiseptic.
Did You Know…?
After removing a tick from the skin, you should save it for future analysis should you become sick. Place it in a dry jar or a sealed plastic bag, and keep it in the freezer. After one month, if you experience no symptoms, you may discard it.