It’s that time of year when we can finally look forward to getting outdoors in the warm sunshine. Unfortunately we have to share both the outdoors and the sunshine with ticks and especially the most unwelcome deer tick, the carrier of Lyme disease and several other nasty things.
Deer tick season typically starts in mid-May and runs through the middle of July, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Ramsey County is officially listed as a “moderate risk” area while our neighbor to the north, Anoka County is labeled high risk.
Prevent Tick Bites
Be especially cautious if you plan on being in a wooded or brushy area and make it a point to check your body periodically for ticks. If you’ll have your pooch with you, check it too, for ticks.
Before you leave home, apply a tick repellent, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Wear light-colored clothing, which makes ticks more visible, and tuck your pants into your boots or socks and wear a long-sleeved shirt, tucked into your pants.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests that you remain in the center or walking or hiking trails. Since ticks tend to congregate in brush and grass, you’ll be less vulnerable when you remain away from the edges of paths.
When you get home, remove all your clothing and wash immediately. Take a shower and check everywhere on your body for ticks.
What to do if you find a Tick
The sooner a tick is removed from your body the less your chance of acquiring a tick-borne disease. “Deer ticks must remain attached one to two days to transmit Lyme disease, and about one day for the other diseases,” say the experts at Minnesota DNR.
You’ll need to use tweezers to grab the tick where it is attached to your skin. Slowly pull it outward. Once removed, wash the area with soap and water and apply antiseptic.
Early Signs of Lyme Disease
Not everyone shows the same symptoms of Lyme disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), so don’t wait to exhibit all of them before seeking medical attention.
Common symptoms that occur within the first three days resemble the flu. These include chills, fever, muscle and joint aches, headache and fatigue. You may also experience a rash.
MDH says to watch for the following symptoms that may occur within weeks after being bitten:
- The rash multiplies
- Paralysis on one side of the face
- Stiff neck
- A feeling of numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Heart palpitations
If none of those symptoms prompt you to seek medical attention, expect any of the following within months after the bite:
- Nervous system problems
- Arthritis in the joints, typically the knees
- Persistent weakness and fatigue
Again, it is crucial that you see your doctor immediately after removing a tick from your body. For more information on Lyme disease, visit MDH’s website.
"Adult deer tick" by Photo by Scott Bauer. - This image was released by the Agricultural Research Service. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.