The northeastern United States has just experienced a warm winter and now spring has brought us record high temperatures. It has also brought us fears of a Lyme disease epidemic in the making.
There are more than 80 species of ticks. Ticks can be found everywhere; at local parks, in fields, on trails and even in our backyards. The warmer temps have brought more people outdoor earlier this year and tall grasses and plant-life are in an abundant growth mode where ticks are most prevalent.
The most threatening tick is the deer tick which can cause Lyme disease. The number of Lyme disease cases has increased yearly since being discovered in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search for them carefully and they can be on you without you being able to feel them.
Fortunately, only a minority of deer tick bites leads to Lyme disease. Treatment for Lyme disease is with antibiotics and is most effective if begun early. In later stages, response to treatment may be slower, but the majority of people fully recover. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater the risk of getting the disease. Also, even if you’ve already had Lyme disease, you can get it again.
When outdoors avoid areas that can be tick infested such as high grasses, open fields, wooded areas and brush on the side of trails. Apply insect repellent to clothing and exposed skin. Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be easily spotted. Tuck pants into socks or boots and inspect yourself frequently for ticks when outdoors. Also, check your pets after being outdoors. Cats and dogs can bring ticks indoors which could attach to humans.
An effective product to use is Tick Nipper (from Josyln Designs), a small pocket-sized pliers made of sturdy plastic which helps you extract ticks safely and quickly from your skin. It can be carried with you when hiking, fishing or hunting.
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