As summer is rapidly approaching many of us are already thinking about the outdoor fun such as camping and hiking. What we may be forgetting is the various ways we could become ill from these seemingly harmless activities. Everyone is ready to come out and play during the warmer months, which includes the ticks. There are several tick-borne illnesses we must be aware of to protect ourselves while having fun this summer.
We’ve all heard of Lyme disease and this year is said to be a particularly risky one for Lyme. Unfortunately, Lyme is present in more than 260 counties, reported by the CDC in 2015. Roughly 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme disease yearly, with 95% of the illness reported from all around New England and eight other states. Normally it takes up to 24 hours for a tick to infect a person with Lyme after biting. While this is an alarming truth, there are treatments for Lyme disease and there are several ways to protect yourself.
If Lyme disease doesn’t alert oneself enough to protect themselves from ticks, then maybe the Powassan virus will. Doctors have warn the public of this new tick virus in Connecticut beginning to appear in Bridgeport and Branford. While the symptoms are similar to that of Lyme disease, they are far more severe and there is no current treatment plan or cure. Therefore, it is imperative we are protecting ourselves before each fun-filled day outdoors and checking ourselves afterwards.
Before heading outdoors, the CDC urges everyone to spray themselves with a repellent containing a DEET concentration of 20% or higher. Pants and long sleeves are also recommended, however, if one just steers clear from bushy or wooded areas they’re at a lower risk of ticks latching on. Once your summer adventure is done for the day, you must do a thorough tick check on your entire body and on your pets and gear! Be sure to check your scalp, ears, armpits, between the toes and everywhere else. Showering within two hours of coming indoors is an excellent habit to pick up and it makes checking for ticks easier.
Following these guidelines puts oneself at a much lower risk for any tick-borne illnesses. One can have just as much fun while being protective of their body and health throughout the summer. Better safe than sorry, enjoy the summer safely otherwise risk losing the rest of the summer to an infection.