Summer Vacation or Tick Paradise?
Summertime is finally here! For many of us, this means weekend camping trips with our families, hiking the nearby mountains, or otherwise spending time in our backyards relaxing. However, we must also be aware of the dangers of such activities and be diligent in preventing health problems. With growing tick populations that potentially carry Lyme disease as well as Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Ehrichiosis, Powassan and Rickettsiosis there is reason to be concerned.
Compared with population size, Maine and Vermont have the highest incidence rates of Lyme disease followed by Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In 2017, Northeast states such as Pennsylvania (9,250), New Jersey (3,692) and New York (3,502) had the highest number of reported cases of Lyme disease but Southern states from Virginia (1,041) to Florida (124) are also at risk, albeit at a lower instances the further south the state is located.
Knowing how to recognize and prevent Lyme disease and knowing other basic facts can be helpful to you and your loved one’s safety:
- Firstly, you should know that Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks (also known as a blacklegged tick), as opposed to other species such as dog ticks and lone star ticks.
- Symptoms of Lyme disease include the telltale sign that is the expanding bullseye like rash, as well as swollen joints, pain in area that was bitten and occasional neurological issues.
- June, July and August are the most common months for Lyme disease.
- In general, most Lyme disease is spread through the bite of small, immature deer ticks known as nymphs, although adults also spread the disease.
- Nymphs are less than 2 mm in size, which is about the size of a poppy seed, and adults are about the size of a sesame seed.
- Although Lyme disease is a serious matter for people of all ages, it is most prevalent in children from the ages of 5 to 14 years old, and adults that are 65+ years old.
- Ticks are most often found in hard to detect areas of your body such as your scalp, armpits and groin.
- In most cases, a tick must be attached between 36 and 48 hours before it can spread Lyme and other disease.
So how do you go about preventing ticks from attaching in the first place? A few recommendations for tick prevention and identification include the following:
- Use bug spray with DEET on your clothing, rather than your skin.
- When in the woods, or other common tick habitats wear long clothing and tuck your pants into your socks.
- Check your pets and clothing thoroughly for ticks.
- Thoroughly check yourself and your children for ticks after a long outing.
- Using tweezers, firmly grasp by the tick’s head and remove.
- Shower after returning home.
- Run your clothes through the dryer to kill any remaining ticks.
So now you know more about ticks, and how to stop them in their tracks before they can harm you and your loved ones. Go out and enjoy the sun and experience the outdoors; it’s going to be a great summer!
By Andrew Norton, Loss Control Intern