A study was conducted in the UK to determine and document the risk of tick bites at an outside event during “high tick season”. The study fallowed runners over a two-day race, participants where split into teams of two and where tracked through two days of running with a night of camping in between. At the end of each day, the runners were given a small tube containing alcohol, and they were asked to place ticks found on their bodies into the tube. The study offer tick removal services to the participants to insure it was done safely.
The racers removed and turned in a shocking amount of ticks for the study. A surprising 564 ticks in total were submitted by the racers over two days. Data indicated that 8.5% of racers in the study were bitten on the first day, and on day two the instance went up to 13.8%; the scary part, nearly all the ticks collected by the study were carrying a type of tick-borne infection.
Paul Mead, M.D., MPH, chief of epidemiology and surveillance activity at the CDC estimates “In areas where [Lyme disease] is very common, one out of every four or five ticks might be infected,” and “In other area where it’s much rarer, that may be more like one in hundred.”
Expert expect this summer to be high risk for tick bits because the tick population has exploded after two consecutive warm winters. If you are spending a good amount of time outdoors, in the wooded areas, tall grasses and shrubs; maybe camping, hiking or fishing, it is important to be aware of ticks. Simply hanging out at an outdoor barbeque for the holiday weekend or playing in the backyard won’t increase your risk exponentially, however, there is still a chance of exposure to tick born illness and safeguards need to be considered.
Some precautions to take this Memorial Day weekend to help reduce your risk of being bitten ticks:
-Use repellent containing 10-30% DEET on skin and Permerthrin spray on gear and clothes.
-Wear long pants, sleeves and high socks when in heavily wooded areas, lighter colored clothes will help you see ticks better.
-Stick to the trail and stay in open in sunny areas, ticks prefer humid shady environments like shrubs and leaf piles.
-Wash all your clothes in hot water after leaving a tick-infested area, high heat in the dryer can kill lingering ticks you cannot see such as larvae.
-Check your animals for ticks after camping trips and traveling as they could bring ticks into your home increasing risk.
Most Lyme Disease cases occur between April and October, with half of all cases happening in June and July so be extra vigilant. Act quickly if you find a tick on you, ticks that are attached for under 24hours present a lower risk for infection if they are removed. The quicker you act, the better.