The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tick-borne diseases are on the rise. Everyone should take steps to prevent the diseases, particularly during the spring, summer and early-fall, when ticks are most active.
May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, the CDC says on its website. During this season, it’s important to protect yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.
Ticks cause Lyme disease, other illnesses
Ticks could be in the areas where we live, work and play; infected ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While the CDC says more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide, it notes that studies suggest the actual number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is more likely about 300,000. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.
Concern has been raised about a potentially deadly tick-borne illness spreading across the country called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.
Take steps to protect against ticks
Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. The CDC recommends that people:
- Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
- Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
- Treat dogs for ticks, using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, etc. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and accompanying diseases, and could bring ticks inside.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to wash off and find ticks before they bite.