Do you plan on spending time in the great outdoors this spring and summer? Maybe you have a specific hiking trail in mind, or are setting a date for a picnic. If so, be prepared to protect yourself from critters of all kinds; even the small ones. Infected ticks in particular can have a lasting effect on our bodies.

Lyme Disease is spread through the bite of an infected deer tick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a tick must be attached for at least 36 hours before the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi can be transmitted and infect the host. Most often, humans are infected during the spring and summer months by the bite of a nymph, an immature tick less than 2mm. Nymphs often attach in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.

In about 70% of Lyme Disease victims, tick bites leave a unique rash known as a “bull’s eye” rash, namely because of its shape. Other initial symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme Disease can be treated with a course of antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. Left untreated, more severe symptoms may occur that can last months or years after the bite.

Did you Know?

  • According to the CDC, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported vector borne illness in the United States
  • Most cases of Lyme Disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics
  • According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America, approximately 95 percent of all cases of Lyme disease occur in the Northeast and the Upper Midwest

Tips for Preventing Lyme Disease

  1. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  2. Use bug repellents containing 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing and pre-treat clothing, boots, and tents with permethrin, or purchase pre-treated clothing (CDC).
  3. Bathe as soon as possible after coming indoors.
  4. Conduct a full body check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all body parts.
  5. Put clothes in a hot dryer for about an hour to kill any remaining ticks.
  6. Educate yourself and others on proper tick removal.

Check out more preventative tips from the CDC.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Infectious Diseases Society of America, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.