It’s tick season. If you’re camping with the family or hiking the trails this summer, don’t let ticks spoil your vacation. Several species of ticks can transmit Lyme disease, a devastating illness that affects the central nervous system.
Unfortunately, Lyme disease has many non-specific symptoms that mimic flu and is often incorrectly diagnosed. If you come down with flu symptoms after hiking through the woods, watch for a “bulls-eye” rash, named for its appearance as an expanding ring. Severe cases of Lyme disease can last for years and be quite debilitating, causing dizziness, fatigue, severe joint pain, facial paralysis and a weakened heart.
To avoid ticks and the diseases they transmit, follow these precautions:
- Avoid vegetation, especially long grass. Many tick species attach to humans and animals as they pass through long grasses.
- Wear long pants of a light color (so you can see the tiny black ticks) with the pants tucked into your socks.
- Do a full body check periodically. Inspect your clothing, body, head and particularly your hair. If you see a moving black spec or a freckle that changes location, it’s probably a tick.
If you find a tick lodged in your skin, remove it by gripping it with tweezers right behind the embedded head and pulling gently. Don’t grasp the body or you may squeeze disease into your body. Touching the tick’s back with a hot knife will also cause it to remove its head from your skin. Put the tick in a well sealed plastic bag or container and take it to your doctor’s for evaluation. (You can pick up tick evaluation kits at your local pharmacy or camping store.)
Have a safe vacation this summer and don’t let the bugs bug you!