As we settle into spring and summer and plan more and more outdoor activities, we caution residents to be aware of ticks - even the old fashioned "dog tick" - that can pass Lyme disease to its human host.
Also, fleas, biting flies, and red ants in the Southern states have been known to carry Lyme disease.
The answer is not to become a hermit and stay in the safety of your dwelling all the time, but to get out and enjoy the great outdoors during the summer months with certain protective preventatives. Such as:
*Perform frequent, thorough tick checks, especially in the scalp area.
*Wear light colored clothing.
*Tuck pants into socks, or put duct tape around the pants cuffs.
*Put clothes into dryer for 30 minutes to kill ticks. Washing clothes will not kill ticks!
*There are products containing DEET for skin. Children two months and older use 10-percent concentration but do not apply to face or hands. Adults use 12-25-percent maximum. Products containing Permethrin for clothes is very effective for adults and recommended for hunters and outdoorsmen, but do not use on children.
*Consider using new DEET-free repellants for 30-45 minute effectiveness.
Remember, you don't have to be in the deep woods to be bitten by a tick. You can encounter ticks in your back yard, or they can enter your home on the family pet.
If you find a tick attached, remove it with tweezers only. Never burn a tick off your body, this will only push the bacteria from the tick further into your body.
Symptoms of Lyme disease may appear from 48 hours to several weeks after an infected tick bite. They include flu-like symptoms - fatigue, muscle and joint pain and swelling, headache, fever, chills, swollen glands, sore throat, stiff neck, and skin rash. The symptoms also may come and go over several weeks to several months.
The answer is not to stop enjoying nature, the great outdoors and your favorite warm-weather activities. Just be sure to protect yourself first and do tick checks after being outdoors.