It’s that time of year again when people with pets become concerned about those pesky insects known as ticks. Unfortunately, it’s not just pet owners who need to be careful. People that work outside in the yard, hikers and anyone spending time in fields, near tall grass or off path should be mindful of these infectious insects.
Many news outlets are reporting that 2014 could be one of the worst years for ticks and Lyme disease. With this in mind, it is important to understand how you can prevent infection and how to identify the key symptoms.
Lyme disease is known to have a few different stages and varying symptoms. If you catch the disease, early symptoms may include a red circle or rash near the bite, joint and muscle pain as well as headaches. Lyme disease can eventually lead to swelling in the joints making them stiff and difficult to move. It has been reported that those who went untreated for several weeks developed a type of “Lyme arthritis” which caused painful and swollen joints that lasted from days to months. Even worse, about 10-20% of untreated patients will develop lasting arthritis. This type of arthritis is most common in the knee but can spread to other joints as well.
Lyme disease was first discovered in Lyme, CT where researchers began investigating why a large number of children had developed arthritic joints.
Here are some helpful hints to avoid ticks this summer:
- Avoid grassy fields and leaf covered grounds
- Stay on open paths or cut grass
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET
- Do full body checks for ticks after being outside
- Cover up with light color clothing–this makes it easier to spot a tick
If you do find a tick on your skin, it is important to consult with your doctor right away. The longer you go untreated with Lyme disease the more likely you are to develop long-term arthritis and other health problems. Stay safe this year and be on the look out for these blood-sucking pests!