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NEWSLETTER

Tick season is expanding: How to Protect yourself against Lyme disease

There is more to worry about than just Lyme illness.

Lyme disease


Climate change may be causing an increase in tick-borne infections in portions of the United States and Canada. Tick populations have expanded geographically, coming earlier and remaining longer throughout the spring and fall shoulder seasons. That means that we need to be on the lookout for ticks that carry Lyme disease and other infections even in the winter months in many warmer states and provinces.

To help you avoid tick bites, here's a reminder of why it's crucial to prevent Lyme disease.


Lyme disease signs and symptoms


The hallmark symptom of Lyme disease is a bull's-eye red rash that develops after being bitten by an infected tick (scroll down to see photos of classic and non-classic rashes). Nevertheless, 20% to 30% of persons do not have a rash at all. Ticks prefer to bite in dark body folds like the groin, armpit, behind the ears, or on the scalp, so it's easy to notice a rash. Flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, chills, body aches, and sore joints, affect some people. Call your doctor if you detect a rash or have these symptoms. Antibiotics can completely eradicate the bacterial infection at this point.

For example, bacteria might spread to other parts of the body if treatment is not given when the rash or other early symptoms are missed. Additionally, over-reacting to an infection by the body's immune system might cause more harm than good. Joints, the heart, and the neurological system may be harmed by one or both processes. Post-Lyme disease syndrome, which can produce a variety of debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, and depression, can also emerge in patients who have been treated for Lyme disease at any time.


How to avoid becoming infected by the Lyme bacteria


Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections can be prevented by avoiding tick bites. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease may be carried by black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks). The following procedures can be helpful if you reside in an area where the frequency of Lyme disease is high.

Keep an eye out for ticks. To get to humans, ticks normally climb up on the skin from the ground, where they feed on dead leaves or grass blades. When hiking or walking through open spaces, such as meadows and forests, be especially cautious to avoid tripping or getting hurt from brushing up against the vegetation. Keep to paths that have been mowed.

Take precautions to avoid injury. With long pants tucked into socks, ticks will not be able to get under your pants. Ticks may be easier to spot on lighter-coloured clothing.

Use repellents.  It is possible to buy clothes that have been treated with permethrin, a pesticide (which repels ticks). In either case, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when spraying your own clothing and footwear with the product. Use a product containing DEET, picaridin, OLE, IR3535, PMD, or 2-undecanone on all skin that is exposed. You can use the EPA's search engine to select the best product for your needs. For example, DEET should be at least 20% but not more than 50%; picaridin should be between 5% and 20%, and oil of lemon eucalyptus should be between 10% and 30% in concentration. Pump spray bottles, sticks, and wipes are common packaging options for many items, making them more convenient to use.


Check for ticks. If you've spent time in tick-infested areas, ask a friend or family member to examine your body for ticks in places where you can't see. Backs of the knees, groins, underarms, under breasts, behind ears, and the back of the neck are common places where people get bitten. Approximately the size of a sesame seed, the tick species that causes Lyme disease. If a tick is clinging to your skin for 24 to 36 hours, it can transmit enough bacteria to infect you with encephalitis.

Use repellents.  It is possible to buy clothes that have been treated with permethrin, a pesticide (which repels ticks). In either case, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when spraying your own clothing and footwear with the product. Use a product containing DEET, picaridin, OLE, IR3535, PMD, or 2-undecanone on all skin that is exposed. You can use the EPA's search engine to select the best product for your needs. For example, DEET should be at least 20% but not more than 50%; picaridin should be between 5% and 20%, and oil of lemon eucalyptus should be between 10% and 30% in concentration. Pump spray bottles, sticks, and wipes are common packaging options for many items, making them more convenient to use.


Check for ticks. If you've spent time in tick-infested areas, ask a friend or family member to examine your body for ticks in places where you can't see. Backs of the knees, groins, underarms, under breasts, behind ears, and the back of the neck are common places where people get bitten. Approximately the size of a sesame seed, the tick species that causes Lyme disease. It's important to remember that a tick must be attached to your skin for 24 to 36 hours in order to spread enough bacteria to cause disease.

Disclaimer:

No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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