Memorial Day has come and gone, marking the cultural beginning of summer. Without a doubt ENOpians everywhere will be hiking, paddling, camping and hammocking as the warm season sets in. We’re all happy to be outside more during these months…just be sure to be weary of ticks! May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and the numbers of those suffering from the infectious disease are growing in North America every year. So hike your socks up and refresh your memory on tick prevention!
Lyme disease is an infection spread by the bite of an infected tick. It is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks can get the bacteria by biting small animals that are infected. In the eastern U.S., Lyme disease is transmitted by black-legged ticks (lxodes scapularis), also called deer ticks. Lyme disease may affect the skin, heart, nerves, or joints. Patients treated with antibiotics usually recover completely.
It’s easy after hiking and camping to forget about checking for ticks and head straight inside to relax. No matter how hungry you are or how bad you want to take a shower, you MUST stop and check for ticks! Check your furry friends too, they’re more likely to be there!
Wear Proper Footwear
Don’t be afraid of how you think you may look; playing outside is not a fashion show! Wearing proper socks and shoes when outside is the easiest way to prevent ticks and lyme disease. So lace up those hiking boots and pull on those long socks!
OMG, There’s a Tick On You!
Now if you find one on your body, whether it’s still when you’re outside or several hours later when you’re chilling on the couch–don’t freak out. The risk of infection increases with the time the tick is attached. Remove with tweezers (don’t twist) or a tick key; basically try to remove the head as well as the body.
If You’re Hit
Remove tick properly. Carefully monitor. If you suspect the tick has been on you for more than 36 hours that is cause for worry. If you are infected with lyme disease, most people experience a bulls-eye rash around the bite site. Stay calm. If a rash appears, seek out medical attention immediately.
Test results for lyme disease are unlikely to be positive until about 4 weeks AFTER the known tick bite. But it varries from case to case. That’s why it’s tricky and prevention is so important. If you experience numbness or pain in limbs, facial paralysis, abnormal heartbeat or joint swelling you need to get to a doctor.
Enjoy the Outdoors
It’s easy to get yourself into a tizzy about ticks. They’re gross, sneaky, and carry a potentially damaging disease. However, they’re always going to be out there. So just do the best you can. Wear good footwear, don’t tromp through dry and grassy bushes unless you have to and check yourself after spending time outside. Most people who contract Lyme Disease can be fixed right up with antibiotics. Be aware, but also be adventurous. It’s going to be a great summer!