May brings the beginning of spring which includes beautiful hikes, back-country bike rides and a multitude of outdoor recreational events. It also brings about the stirrings of many creatures which include deer ticks.
May is also recognized Nationally as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
Deer ticks infected with Lyme disease are prevalent in our area which includes all of Northern California, Lake Tahoe and the Carson Valley. In fact, the entire West Coast is affected by this disease not to mention the East Coast, which is terribly impacted.
This is potentially a very debilitating disease and can be difficult to have diagnosed. There are several things that can be done to prevent tick bites and therefore the chance of contracting Lyme disease. The first and foremost thing is to wear bug spray that contains DEET which repels ticks. When outdoors, be aware that high brush and grassy areas are prime locations where ticks are found. It is also recommended one wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved clothing while hiking. Staying on trailheads rather than off-road is another good idea.
Carrying tweezers in your hiking bag is another preventative measure one can take. If you find a tick on yourself, grab as close to the tick as possible with the tweezers and pull straight out. You may also want to save the tick and take it to your physician for testing.
Please make sure to check yourself and other family members after being outdoors for up to a week afterwards. Since deer ticks can be as large as a grain of rice to as small as a poppy seed they are difficult at best to see, especially if they are in areas such as under your arms, in the groin area or even on your head.
Lyme disease has a very distinctive rash that occurs in 40-50 percent of people who contract it. It is circular, reddened and ringed just like a bull’s-eye. It can spread very large or stay somewhat small. If you see this rash, go immediately to your physician. If you do not see a rash, some of the symptoms of Lyme disease are as follows: feeling extremely tired; very painful muscles and joints; joint swelling; numbness and tingling; muscle twitching; feeling feverish; rashes; etc. If you fall ill up to 30 days after being outdoors in tick infested areas, it is a good idea to see your physician and let them know what activities you were involved in prior to the symptoms.
As for your pets and hiking companions, veterinarian’s are very knowledgable in the prevention of tick borne illnesses and the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in animals.
There are many resources from which to gather information on this disease and it’s progressiveness. CALDA (California Lyme Disease Association) and ILADS (International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) are among several of the resources.
It is important to understand that not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease.
May is the time to talk Lyme.