As the temperatures and BBQ grills start to heat up, we know that summer is almost upon us. And though summer can bring with it family fun and relaxation – it can also bring something less appealing: Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bites of ticks. Not only do these little vampires latch onto your pets and make them sick, they can also bore into you and make you and your family very ill.
To stay healthy this summer, here are some ways you can prevent Lyme disease:
Know High Risk Areas
Unless you like the idea of wrapping your family completely in Saran Wrap from head to toe, it’s a good idea to know the areas you’re most likely to run into ticks. Ticks typically contract their Lyme disease from animal, birds and livestock, so high-risk areas include farms, forests, woodland, and moors. You’re far more likely to be exposed to disease-carrying ticks hiking with your family than you are spending a day with them at the beach.
Beyond this, Lyme disease happens to be heavily concentrated in two particular areas of the United States, and that is the northeast and upper Midwest. In fact, the CDC found a whopping 96 percent of all Lyme disease diagnoses in 2014 came from a fraction of states, namely Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. If you live in these states or plan on traveling there this summer, use preventative measures.
- Watch for the Bulls-Eye Rash
The sooner you can treat Lyme disease, the better. One of the first and most obvious signs you’ve been bitten by an infected tick is a rash that looks like a little, red bulls-eye that appears at the bite mark. If you notice this red, white, red circle pattern that looks very much like a target or bullseye, it is something to be concerned about. Head to your GP or emergency room.
Use Repellant the Right Way
When it comes to ticks, it’s not enough to spray repellant on your skin, you also need to spray your clothes as well. Ticks can easily get on your clothes and crawl all over you to find a nice, vulnerable access point. Don’t make it easy for them. Spray DEET on your clothes, socks, and shoes as well.
And speaking of clothing, let’s talk about how you should dress this summer. If you happen to live in the states mentioned or will be vacationing there, and you’re planning on going on a picnic or hiking through the woods, shorts and a T-shirt just won’t cut it.
You need to cover as much skin as possible. That means long-sleeved shirts and pants that are tucked into your socks. Also, it’s a good idea to wear light-colored clothing. Since ticks are dark, they are more easily spotted on light-colored clothing.
Have a fun and safe summer.
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