The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the outdoors are calling us to play. Summer is here and after being cooped up at home we all need a breath of fresh air. Though the concerns around COVID 19 are still present, we now need to be mindful about Lyme Disease. Here is some helpful information so you can feel at ease while enjoying the outdoors.
Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness caused by a bite from an infected backlegged tick (deer tick or Ixodes scapuralis) carrying the spiral shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Once the tick attaches to the skin of a person, it begins to feed on the host and can pass the bacteria into the bloodstream. Not all deer ticks carry the Lyme pathogen. One important factor regarding transmission has to do with how long the tick was attached. This can be noted by how engorged the tick appears. The longer the tick feeds, the more engorged the tick becomes. A deer tick is roughly 1/8”, about the size of a sesame seed, and has a flat, broad, oval shaped body.
Signs and Symptoms of Lime Disease
The signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease vary. They usually appear in stages, though the stages can overlap. The early stages of disease can present with flu-like symptoms including fatigue, headaches, fever, chills, body aches, stiff neck, joint pain, a bull’s eye rash known as erythema migrans (EM for short) and gastrointestinal problems. Later stages can affect other systems of the body such as cardiovascular and neurological. Bell’s Palsy or drooping of one side of the face or EM may appear on other body parts.
Facts about the Rash:
- There could be one single bull’s eye or multiple.
- The bull’s eye could appear at the site of the tick bite or any where else on the body.
- The rash starts out as a red area and expands slowly over days.
- The bite area is generally not itchy.
- The rash can appear within the first week but can take up to 30 days.
- Not everyone develops a rash.
Tips on Prevention:
- Avoid areas where ticks hang out; tall grass, wooded areas, leaf pile and brush.
- Stay on trails when hiking.
- When in areas where there is potential risk, wear light colored clothing; long pants and long sleeves and tuck pants into socks.
- Wear closed toed shoes.
- Wear a hat.
- Spray clothing with tick repellent, preferably a natural repellent.
- Note: Many essential oils can repel ticks and other bugs. Here is a link for a DIY kid friendly repellent https://mommypotamus.com/natural-tick-repellent-recipe/, or you can purchase already made natural ones. Just check ingredients)
- Apply a natural tick repellent to exposed skin.
- Do a thorough tick check when returning from outdoors. Pay special attention to hair, scalp, back of the neck, behind ears and knees, belly button, arm pits and groin area.
- Check pets for ticks, especially after being outdoors.
Removal of a Tick:
- With a set of fine tipped tweezers, grasp tick as close to skin as possible.
- Pull upward with steady force. It is not uncommon for a piece of the mouth to break off. You can use the tweezers to remove or just leave it alone.
- Cleanse the area with soap and water.
- Monitor for any signs of redness, swelling or a rash for 30 days.
Being proactive is the best way to enjoy the outdoors. If your child does get bit by a tick, monitor them for any symptoms that concern you. Be smart, be safe and be aware.