It’s the best time of year to enjoy the great outdoors, either at the cottage, camping, canoeing or just going for a nice walk in the woods. While you’re enjoying yourself, it’s important to understand the potential risks of Lyme disease and how to protect yourself.
Lyme Disease is a growing concern for those who love the outdoors. But understanding what causes the disease and how to reduce the chances of infection help stay safe and healthy.
It is spread by an infected insect call a blacklegged tick. When the tick bites a human, the human becomes infected. The ticks are very small, approximately the size of a sesame seed and vary in colour from grey to dark brown. Tick bites are painless and only infected ticks spread the disease. If you find a tick under your skin and it is removed within 24-36 hours, you probably will not be infected.
If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it may become late-stage or chronic. Lyme disease may spread to any part of the body and affect any body system.
Early symptoms include; flu-like illness (fever, chills, sweats, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea and joint pain), possible bull’s-eye shaped rash or even Bell’s palsy (facial drooping).
The Best Way to Protect Yourself
- Wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants
- Pull socks over pant legs
- Wear light-coloured clothes to spot ticks easier
- Use insect repellent containing DEET or Icaridin
- Shower or bathe within 2 hours of being outdoors to wash away loose ticks
- Do a daily “full-body” check for ticks on yourself, children and pets
Around the House or Cottage – Reduce the Risk:
- Keep grass mowed
- Remove leaf litter, brush and weeds
- Keep firewood piles and bird feeders away from the house
- Keep your pets, particularly dogs, out of the woods and consider tick repellents
- Move children’s swing sets and sandboxes away from the woodland’s edge and place them on a woodchip or mulch foundation
Now that you have a knowledge about ticks and Lyme disease, you can protect yourself and be certain to have a fun and healthy summer.