Heads up! Better yet, look down.
It's that season.... SUMMER, when you and all of wildlife is rejoicing in the sun and on the trails!
But wait. It's also the time of year for ticks. In fact, May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 476,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the US every year.
Ticks are spreading and as they spread they're bringing with them a lot of diseases. Did you know they account for up to 16 illnesses? Also, there is no true national tracking of this pesky arachnid and only 6 require notification to health departments. This means it is up to individuals to be informed, aware and alert.
In this article by Wired, ticks are on the move, "For about a decade, researchers have documented that the major disease-carrying tick species are onthemove throughout the US. This is unexpected, because ticks are picky; temperature, humidity, forest cover, soil moisture, and the presence of their preferred hosts all tend to keep them confined to particular areas. The obvious answer to why they might relocate is climate change. As temperature zones move northward, it’s reasonable to think the arachnids would follow."
Our forests and hiking trails are a welcome treat for both tourists and those ticks. So, what to do?
First, prevention. Here is a great list by the CDC on what to do before you go outdoors:
Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal icon containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search toolexternal icon can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
Avoid Contact with Ticks
Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
Walk in the center of trails.
After you've finished your outdoor activities, whether that's taking the dogs for a walk, gardening or truly hiking, then do the following:
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
Under the arms
In and around the ears
Inside belly button
Back of the knees
In and around the hair
Between the legs
Around the waist
To learn more about Lyme Disease, recognizing it, symptoms, and more visit this site - https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/about-lyme/.