Ticks: summer's unwelcome guests
This week’s topic is something that hits home, as several people I love suffer from this disease. I’ve seen firsthand how difficult this disease is, so it’s important for me to share this information with the public and make sure people are aware of the dangers of ticks and Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is a bacteria that is carried primarily by deer ticks. It is an extremely dangerous disease that can be hard to diagnose. Often, people with Lyme Disease are misdiagnosed, leading to the nickname, “The Great Imitator” (LymeDisease.org). Symptoms of this disease can affect any region of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and even the heart.
Unfortunately, deer ticks are everywhere. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and are especially concentrated in the United States and Canada. Due to increasing tick populations, reports of Lyme Disease are also increasing. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate 300,000 diagnoses of Lyme Disease every year.
Not every tick carries Lyme Disease, but you should still avoid being bitten. When going in the woods or in areas of high grass, wear bug or tick repellant to protect yourself. Upon return, thoroughly check your hair and body for ticks. If you find a tick, remove it and look for any symptoms of Lyme Disease for the next couple days. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms can take up to 30 days to appear.
Symptoms to look out for include: flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and joint pain; or rash that can sometimes look like a bull’s eye.
If you exhibit any of these symptoms, or have been bitten by a tick recently and feel concerned, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or go to a walk-in clinic as soon as possible. Catching the disease early may make your treatment plan shorter and less difficult.
Make sure to look out for man’s best friend too. Animals are exposed to ticks more than humans, and they can contract the disease just like we can. Pets experience symptoms differently than we do, so if you find a tick on your pet, look out for things like: joint problems, limping, or lethargy (LymeDisease.org).
Any questions regarding Lyme Disease and what it could mean for your health, can be addressed by contacting our Sanitarian Jeff Kiger at 304-265-1288 or by visiting our new website at www.GTCHDWV.org.