Newswise — NEW YORK (June 13, 2018) — The summer months are upon us and people are beginning to spend more time outdoors, increasing their exposure to ticks and the diseases they may carry. Most people are familiar with Lyme disease, which if left untreated can cause an infection that spreads to the joints, the heart, and the nervous system, but what they may not know is that different species of ticks may bring different and less familiar health concerns.
Below, learn the top 8 tick tips you need to know in order to protect yourself and your family this summer.
Read the full interview with Dr. Brian Fallon of NewYork-Presbyterian and Dr. Rafal Tokarz of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health on Health Matters here: https://healthmatters.nyp.org/ticks-what-to-know-and-how-to-protect-yourself/
- Stay on the path
Ticks don’t jump on people like fleas, they stick out their front limbs in the air and grab on to whatever brushes by. If hiking, stay on the cleared path and don’t walk through leaf foliage or high grass.
- Spray them away
Permethrin is a terrific spray for your clothes that you can find in an outdoor gear store; for your skin, use repellent that contains 20 to 30 percent of either DEET or picaridin, or repellent containing 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Clean it up
If you have a lawn and shrubbery, keep everything neatly trimmed. Ticks like dark, moist spaces, so a cut lawn that gets lots of sun can reduce the number of ticks. Taking steps to keep rodents at bay will also help.
- Watch the time
May, June, and July is when larva ticks are on the hunt for blood to feed on to survive. That doesn’t mean the rest of the year is off limits, though. In the fall months adult ticks begin to come out, which are responsible for about 10 percent of Lyme disease cases.
- Check all over
After you’ve gone camping, hiking, spent time gardening, or mowing the lawn, check your hair, around your groin, your underarms, and behind your knees. For kids, put items directly in the washer and dryer to kill any ticks before performing a tick check. Check your pets the same as you would do with children if they have been outdoors.
- Know your ticks
Different ticks may present different health issues. The Black Legged Tick, commonly referred to as the Deer Tick, is most well-known and responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease. The Dog Tick, on the other hand, transmits the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and The Lone Star Tick can even cause an allergy to red meat! See the attached graphic for more information and visuals.
- Spot the signs
In most cases, Lyme disease presents a solid rash that starts small and expands in size over a few days. There might also be no rash at all, or there may be multiple rashes. Be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, stiff muscles, fatigue, and painful joints.
- Act quick
It’s best to remove the tick as soon as possible. If the black-legged tick, for example, is removed within 24 hours, you reduce the risk substantially of acquiring Lyme disease.
Expertise provided by:
- Brian Fallon, M.D., MPH, attending physician in psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. He is the author of “Conquering Lyme Disease: Science Bridges the Great Divide.”
- Rafal Tokarz, Ph.D., associate research scientist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the author of “The Everything Guide to Lyme Disease.”