It is nearly summer and the weather is warming, and though that means it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the nature; unfortunately, it also means it’s time to protect yourself from ticks and the deadly diseases they carry. Tick populations have exploded the last decade and the bloodsuckers have spread to places they were never found before meaning it is now more important than ever to protect yourself, no matter where you are.
April through October is the active time for ticks and that activity peeks in the summer months. So, don’t find yourself unprepared or the consequences could be dire. There are many diseases that can accompany tick bites and the most common is Lyme disease. Lyme disease cases have skyrocketed in the past decade with the increase in ticks, the CDC reports around 30,000 cases of Lyme disease each year and that number is theorized to be much higher when considering the monumental amount of cases that go undiagnosed. Though Lyme disease can be easily treated when diagnosed early, it can become extremely problematic and hard to treat if it goes undetected. In addition, Lyme disease is often accompanied by many other infections that can also be problematic.
To make matters worse there are many other deadly diseases that have been on the rise due to increased tick populations. The deadly virus Powassan, though rare, has seen a rise in cases in the last few years. Also, a breed of tick from Asia that has never been found in the Americas before was discovered this week. The East Asian tick, also known as the longhorned or brush tick, was discovered numbering in the thousands in New Jersey. The tick has been connected to passing the deadly SFTS virus, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, though no cases of the virus have been reported in the US yet it can be a deadly condition. SFTS causes muscle pain, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, chill, vomiting, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, a disease of the lymph nodes, conjunctival congestion and may cause death. Other deadly tick born illnesses to watch out for; Borrelia miyamotoi disease (BMD) which can be deadly and the rarer Rocky Mountain spotted fever that killed a child last summer.
As you can see it’s important to protect yourself from ticks especially during the summer, here are some tips on how to keep ticks away. Be aware that ticks like to reside in cool and shaded areas, so avoid long grasses, high brush, and leaf piles and try to stay on trails. Checking yourself after coming home is also a good habit, check your clothes and your gear for any ticks that may be stowing away and dry them on high heat to kill any ticks you may have missed. Taking a shower or bathing soon after coming in from the outdoor is also a good idea, this will help you find any ticks that may have latched on. It is very important to find ticks that are latched on as early as possible because the longer they are attached the more likely they are of passing diseases and infections.
Checking your pets and treating them with tick repellents is also important as it will keep you and them safe. You can also use repellents on yourself and your gear before you go out. Repellents with 20-30% DEET is suggested for use on skin and clothes and will protect for several hours, and repellents containing permethrin work well for protecting clothes and camping materials like tents and packs. Finally, get your house and yard sprayed to protect your home from ticks that can invade with the help of rodents and other animals that can be tick carriers. With a little effort and some awareness, you can stay safe this summer and still enjoy the outdoors. I hope article helped and have a great summer.