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Must Be the Season of the Tick

Must Be the Season of the Tick


By Chris Petry

Recently, after a bout of achy throbbing muscles and joint pain, I was tested for Lyme Disease. The good news? No Lyme Disease. The bad news? Methinks, I had an allergic reaction to a common medication. Ah, well. Today, we’re not going to speculate about the state of my health. Today, we’ll talk about a little preventative work you, and I for that matter, can do to ensure we have a happy, healthy summer free of tickborne illness.

If you’ve never had Lyme Disease, you probably still know someone that has. Did you know that, according to the Global Lyme Alliance, nearly half a million people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease every year in the United States? Lyme is spread by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, in some cases, Borrelia mayonii. According to the CDC, Subjects are exposed to these strains of bacteria via a bite from an infected blacklegged tick. It’s worth noting that not all ticks are carriers and a bite alone does not insure infection.
Symptoms of Lyme infection include rash, fever, arthritic-like pain and stiffness, fever, facial paralysis and an irregular heartbeat. Depending on the tick and how long it was attached to your skin, antibiotics can be administered early to reduce the likelihood of developing Lyme Disease. The American Medical Association states that the bacterial transmission from the infected tick to a human being generally takes between 48 and 72 hours, providing you with a sizable window for discovery. Of course, some people never see the tick and it’s only until much later, when symptoms of the disease present themselves, that they contemplate the possibility of infection.
How many times have you heard someone reference the red bullseye that’s become synonymous with tick bites in the public discourse?  John Hopkins says the infamous first tell isn’t as ubiquitous as once believed. Bites can take on varying appearances, sometimes being mistaken for other insect or arachnid-originated punctures. Some will have no visible bite wound or rash at all. If you do present with a skin rash or bullseye, however, it’s best to get it looked at.

Lyme Disease is generally diagnosed with a simple two-part blood test. The ELISA test will examine your blood for responsive antibodies which are working to battle the infection. If antibodies are detected, it will then be verified through what’s called a Western Blot Test, which identifies and separates key proteins to confirm diagnosis.
Even if your Blot test comes back positive, the odds are squarely in your favor. The AMA reports that about 90% of people will make a full recovery from the disease after antibiotic treatment. Some people, for unknown reasons, will experience lingering side effects of the disease. Still, the majority of those side effects can be mitigated by secondary treatment such as drugs and therapies.

How can you prevent tick bites and infection? This article from REALTOR.com points out that ticks often enter homes by first hitching a ride on pets. Bathing dogs and cats with flea and tick shampoo can reduce the risk by making our pets less attractive nesting spots. Keep them up to date on their flea and tick regiment, whether that’s a topic save, pills, or veterinarian-administered injections. They also recommend erecting a barrier around your property such as a wall or fence to prevent wild animals from visiting and bringing ticks to you.

Ticks may enter our homes on our persons if we spend time outdoors, around animals or hiking, biking and camping in the forest. Sure, it’s hot in the summer. Understandable. The woods, however, are no beach. Long pants and sleeves, closed toe shoes, socks and hats are your friends because they provide an extra barrier between you and infections. Not just from ticks but other pests as well. You can also spray exposed skin with a number of tick-repellant mists, sold in hunting, fishing, camping and outdoors shops across the state. Homeowners can take an extra step to prevent ticks from entering their property by consulting an exterminator who might be able to provide preventative pet-safe spray treatments to your surrounding grounds.
For all intents and purposes, it’s summer time and we will not be entertaining speculatory gloom about a late-May cold snap or the possibility of a once-in-a-century typhoon-like downpour by week’s end. No, no, no. We will live in a state of blissful nonchalance, images of dandelions, warm summer beaches and lush wind-rustled greenery filling our collective thoughts. Hopefully, nightmarish visions of ticks don’t enter the equation! Still, if one of nature’s vampires does find its way onto your skin or clothing, don’t panic. Let nothing ruin your summer. Not even ticks!