2017 tick season is shaping up to be one of the worst we have seen in years. While the tick population and diseases it carries remains a concern every year, why is this year such a concern? There are several reasons for this, and there is information you need to know to keep your family safe.
Is Your Family Protected from Ticks and Diseases They Carry?
The last thing you want to worry about while out on a family vacation is getting sick from an infected tick. Experts are forecasting the 2017 tick season as being one of the worst on record due to several factors. There has been a population explosion of white-footed mice, and due to a very mild winter, the ticks have a longer life cycle, they are active for an extended period and move into areas of the country they typically had not been a problem before.
If you live in regions where these diseases are most prevalent ― the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest, it is crucial to educate yourself and your family about the tick bites and how to prevent them.
Not all ticks are equal. The Black-legged ticks carry the tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, Powassan virus, and babesiosis. Black-legged ticks are smaller than the common dog tick, and their life cycle is two to three years, with their activity peaking through May to July. Statistics are showing the current infection rates of disease carrying ticks is up tenfold from other years. The other disturbing trend is that ticks testing positive for disease have been noted as early as February this year, possibly explained by the mild winter in parts of the country. There has also been an observed increase of 7-8 percent of ticks infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease specifically.
There was a report in 2015 from the Centers for Disease Control that 95% of confirmed Lyme disease came from 14 states. These states included: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Lyme disease is on the rise. For example, in Michigan, there were approximately only 30 cases of Lyme disease reported between 2000 and 2004. In 2009, the cases of Lyme Diseases jumped to 90 and 166 cases in 2013.
Lyme disease, especially in the early phase, present with vague symptoms or look like other illnesses, like the flu, and can often go unrecognized. The CDC estimates because of this actual cases of Lyme disease may be even higher. The typical symptoms that occur early on include — fatigue, muscle pain, joint swelling, and fever. Lyme disease can go misdiagnosed because it requires a particular blood test to detect.
USEFUL TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES
• Do NOT enter heavily wooded areas, tall grass or brush during the months when tick are most active. Tick activity is typical during the months of April lasting until July.
• Cover all area of your body by wearing fitted clothing during outdoor activities and hikes.
• Apply DEET-containing products. DEET is recommended as the most effective repellant. However, for small children, you will need to check the manufacturer label and discuss the use of DEET with your child's doctor. Not all DEET concentrations are safe for use on a small child. In the case of a child, keeping the child out of the tick infested area and the use of tick repellent clothing is a safer option.
• Shower thoroughly as soon as you return from the outdoors or hikes.
• Purchase tick resistant clothing for children to wear outdoors during the peak tick season.
Clothing is available in different sizes and colors – sizes and color available may vary.
KEEP READING… IMPORTANT ACCESSORIES YOU NEED FOR YOUR NEXT OUTDOOR TRIP
Proper Technique To Remove a Tick
• Tweezers – grasp the tick at its head. There are tools available that can greatly assist in the proper removal of ticks from humans and pets. It is important to remember that tick bites are hazardous to your pets, and they should be promptly removed and treated just as you would for yourself.
• Pull the tick with steady but gentle pressure. The use of special tools such as tweezers or inexpensive plastic pinchers can be invaluable for this task. They ease the head of the tick out and prevent minimal damage to the skin the tick was attached to.
• Flush it town the toilet or drop it into a cup of alcohol or between pieces of tape and throw into the trash.
• Clean the tick bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
Check a few important tools you can add to your travel accessories.
Monitor for Lyme Disease Symptoms
• A “bull's eye” shaped rash at the site of the bite that appears about a week later.
• Severe headaches and neck stiffness.
• Arthritis that presents with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees.
• Irregular heart beat.
• Nerve pain.