Tick bites are most common during the summer, when the weather is warmer and people spend more time outdoors.
There are 11 types of tick-borne diseases in the United States, but Lyme disease is the most common, with more than 30,000 cases reported annually. Early symptoms of a tick-borne illness usually occur within three to 30 days of a bite, and are flu-like, such as body and muscle aches, fever, rash, fatigue, and headache. If the illness goes untreated, symptoms can progress to joint pain and neck stiffness.
Tick Bite Prevention
Avoiding tick bites is much easier than treating the diseases they spread. Before going outside this summer, take the following steps to prevent any unpleasant hangers-on:
• Avoid tall grass and overhanging brush. Ticks often wait in these areas for a host to brush against it.
• Check pets. If your pets go outside frequently, check them for ticks often to keep your home a tick-free zone.
• Use repellant. Insect repellant with 20 to 30 percent N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) content is best.
• Wear light-colored clothing. Light clothing makes it easier to see ticks.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tucking pants into your shoes makes it even more difficult for ticks to find part of your body to latch onto.
When you head indoors, perform a full-body check and take a shower. If you do find any attached ticks, remove them quickly and carefully using fine-tipped tweezers. Grabbing the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, slowly and steadily pull it off, and then clean your hands and the bitten area with soap and water.
No Bummer Summer
Ticks aren’t the only insects that thrive in the summertime. Break out the insect repellent to make sure these pests don’t ruin your fun in the sun:
• Ants. Watch out for anthills when setting up for a picnic outside. Clean up food as soon as possible to avoid attracting ants looking for a snack.
• Bees. If you are stung, scrape the stinger out with the edge of a credit card instead of using tweezers, which can cause more venom to be released.
• Mosquitoes. Avoid standing water, where mosquitoes breed, and stay indoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
Tick bites can be more than uncomfortable—they can cause serious, chronic illness. Learn how to keep ticks away.
Sources: cdc.gov, cdc.gov, cdc.gov, niaid.nih.gov, myhealth.va.gov, health.mo.gov, nlm.nih.gov, healthnews.com