Don’t let Lyme disease ruin your summerBy Laura Mize • Published: July 19th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Summer is a great time to play outdoors, and not just for kids relishing freedom from school. Clear skies, sunny days and vibrant green forests and fields draw adventure seekers of all ages to hike, bike, fish, camp and partake in many other kinds of summertime fun.
While these outdoor activities are entertaining ways to stay active and get some vitamin D, they may put you at risk for a serious illness: Lyme disease.
To understand Lyme disease, you have to start at the source. Deer ticks are tiny parasites that live in grassy and wooded areas and latch onto people and animals to suck their blood. They also can carry Lyme disease and may pass it to their hosts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease that is not treated, or is treated late, can cause a myriad of serious symptoms. These include bull’s-eye-shaped rashes, arthritis, fever, heart problems, meningitis and neurological problems. Swift treatment with antibiotics once symptoms appear will vanquish these problems for most patients.
Avoiding Lyme disease in the first place is better yet. The key is protection from tick bites. When you’re enjoying the great outdoors, prevent tick bites by wearing insect repellent with DEET, closed shoes and dark-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts. Once inside, thoroughly check your hair and skin — including crevices and scalp — for ticks. Use a mirror, or have someone else check if needed. Don’t forget to examine clothes and outdoor gear for ticks. Also, inspect pets for ticks that might hitch a ride into your home.
If you find a latched-on tick, remove it promptly using the proper technique, to help avoid bacteria spread. Visit cdc.gov/lyme for instructions.
Knowing how to avoid and deal with deer ticks may prevent Lyme disease transmission … and an unpleasant interruption of summer fun.