The warmer winter this past year means more ticks and an increased threat of Lyme disease cases. While it was nice not to have to shovel and have less weather-related issues like on the roads, it’s going to be a bad year for bugs.
Dr. William Schaffner, director of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, “We anticipate that this is going to be a very buggy summer, and infectious disease doctors are prepared to see an increase in people with tick-related illnesses.”
David Roth, co-chairman of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, a newly formed group of organizations that promote advocacy and awareness of Lyme disease and other conditions caused by ticks told ABC News, “It’s going to be a really bad season, and it’s been almost the perfect storm. Part of it is the warmth and the fact that normally, they’re just coming out at this time of year, but they’ve been out now for a while, and so have people.”
In 2010, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that around 22,000 cases of Lyme disease and 8,000 more probable cases were reported nationwide.
What is Lyme disease? Lyme disease is transmitted when a deer tick, blacklegged tick, feeds off a mammal. It’s caused by a bacterial infection that spreads and damages cartilage in the joints of dogs and humans.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the signs of Lyme disease include the red rash that appears about one or two weeks after a tick bite and around the site of the bite. You’ll experience a fever, joint pain, fatigue and chills. As the bacteria continues to invade the body, people can also experience a stiff neck, tingling and severe headaches.
Lyme Disease Treatment is usually from one of these three Doxycycline, amoxicillin and ceftin oral antibiotics and are the most highly recommended.
How to protect yourself from ticks according to The Richmond Register:
• Avoid wooded, bushy or grassy areas whenever possible.
• Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Ticks are easier to see against a light background.
• Check yourself carefully after you’ve been outdoors. Ticks wander on the body for some time before settling to feed. Those attached to visible areas are easy to see but they also will settle in armpit, groin and scalp, areas that are more difficult to examine thoroughly.
• Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to your skin as possible and pull upward slowly and steadily. Then, wash your skin and hands with soap and warm water. Never crush or squeeze an attached tick.
Jennifer Reid, community coordinator for the Ridgefield-based tick-borne illness prevention group B.L.A.S.T explains another way to rememeber how to protect yourself from Lyme disease. Simply by remembering the name of the organization she works with. Each letter stands for an important method of tick-bite prevention.
“B” stands for “bathing soon after spending time outdoors.” “L” stands for “look your body over for ticks daily and remove them properly.” “A” stands for “apply repellent to skin and clothes.” “S” stands for “spraying your yard to prevent ticks abundance” and “T” stands for “treat your pets to protect them from ticks and to prevent the spread of illness.”