June 27, 2017

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Ticks, Ticks Go Away: Protecting Yourself from Lyme Disease

Say Goodbye to Ticks this SummerThere are few things I dislike about the summer, but ticks top the list.

Ticks thrive in humid, wet and wooded areas. Here in Minnesota, you don’t have to go far to come across them.  Like mosquitoes, ticks can infect humans with bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause serious illness.

There are many diseases that you can get from a tick bite.  One of the most common seen in Minnesota is Lyme disease.  And experts warn this tick season could be particularly bad compared to recent years.

In a typical year, we tend to see the majority of tick-related diseases, particularly Lyme disease, between June and August.  That’s when tick season is at its worst.

What can you do to protect yourself from ticks and Lyme disease?

  • Avoid tick habitats when possible. Ticks like moist and humid areas that are wooded and plant-filled.
  • Use a good tick repellent. Stores that have camping and hunting supplies will often sell DEET-based products, which can be used for adults and children three months and older.  Repellants containing 20 percent or more DEET provides protection for several hours.  For more information about using DEET on children, see recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Wear clothes that help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and pants that are tucked in to the top of your socks or boots help to create a tick barrier. Dark colored clothing sometimes makes it more difficult to find ticks.
  • The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of disease transmission so check yourself and your kids for ticks after spending time outdoors. If you find a tick, remove it by pulling upward in a slow, but firm manner.

If you check for ticks every time you come inside, your risk of a tick-borne disease is small.  Not everyone bit by a tick will be infected.

The most common symptom someone infected with Lyme disease experiences is a red rash that grows in size. They may begin to appear on more than one place on your body though they are usually not painful or itchy.  The Minnesota Department of Health cautions people to “watch the area for early signs of Lyme disease-an expanding rash that appears as a red wing with central clearing or a bulls-eye appearance.”

Some people may not notice a rash. But be on the lookout for other symptoms of Lyme disease, including fever, headache, chills, fatigue, sore throat, a stiff neck and pain in the muscles or joints. Go to the doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Don’t let a few pesky ticks ruin your summer. Just follow these recommendations:

  • Tumble your clothes in the dryer after wear
  • Shower shortly after being outdoors
  • Check your body after coming inside from potential tick-infested areas

Gear up, get outside and enjoy whatever outdoor activity you’re most looking forward to.