Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the US, Canada and Western Europe. The CDC estimates that there are over 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease each year. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have come across ticks. Ticks can’t fly or jump, so these little pests transfer onto an animal or person that brushes up against any foliage that they may have crawled on. Once on a host, they normally make their way to a warm, moist location such as the armpits before settling down to draw blood.
While not all ticks cause illness, they are known carriers for the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and others.
Lyme disease is caused by the bite of a tick infected with the corkscrew-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is one of the fastest emerging infectious diseases in North America and unfortunately one that may be hard to diagnose.
If you know you have been bitten by a tick, you should remove it carefully. Many outdoors stores sell tick removal tools, but if you don’t have one, you can use tweezers. Here is what to do:
• Use a pair of fine-pointed tweezers to grip the tick as closely as you can to the skin’s surface. Grasp the tick’s mouth parts, not the body, and slowly pull it straight out.
• Inspect the area to make sure that the tick’s mouth-parts haven’t remained in your skin.
• Wash your hands and the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.
• After removing the tick, watch for signs of infection from the bite, and get checked immediately if you notice that an infection is starting to develop or if you get a rash, fever, headaches, or flu-like symptoms.
• If you cannot remove the tick completely, then seek professional help.
Then watch for symptoms. Fifty percent of people infected with Lyme develop what’s known as a bull’s-eye rash. The first physical signs of Lyme disease are often flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, headaches and congestion. Other symptoms include:
• Muscle twitching, pain or cramps
• Stiff or painful neck or jaw
• Double or blurry vision
• Eye pain or swelling
• Extreme fatigue
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Shortness of breath
• Night sweats or unexplained chills
If you have any of these symptoms, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Left untreated, Lyme can be debilitating. Antibiotics are the most common and effective treatment for Lyme disease, but there are natural alternatives that help as well. To learn more, contact us.
It can be hard to detect a tick or know that you’ve been bitten. During its nymph stage, a tick is only as big as a period at the end of a sentence. Fully grown, it can be the size of a pea. Ticks usually come in contact with people by positioning themselves on tall grass and bushes.
The risk of being infected is greatest from May through September. Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, are most often found in forests, grassy fields, nature parks, beaches, and gardens. It’s not just hiking in the woods where people can be exposed to ticks. You can come into contact with them while doing any outdoor activities, such as gardening, golfing or camping.
The best thing is not to have to deal with tick bites at all. Here are four tips to help prevent the little bloodsuckers from grabbing hold in the first place:
1. Protect yourself, your children, and your pets with these natural products recommended by Village Green: Combat-Ready Bug Repellent from Skincando, Anti-Bug Shake and Spray or Anti-Bug Balm from Badger.
2. Wear light-colored clothing when headed into the woods. You’ll be able to spot any ticks that may fall on your clothes more easily this way.
3. Tuck your pants into your socks, and your shirt tucked into your pants. It may not look attractive, but it’ll sure help!
4. Inspect yourself, your children, and your pets after having spent time in the woods.
Have fun and stay safe this summer!
Photo from here, with thanks.