Forget about staying 6 feet apart: Ticks go after blood at the most difficult to reach places on the human body.
And the area where Lyme disease exists is expanding.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is now high exposure in states in the Middle East, Northeast and the Atlantic.
The tick population will probably vary during the season anyway, says Mather, who is a professor in the Department of Plant Science and Entomology at the University of Rhode Island. “What we see in real time is not always a good forecast for what can happen a month or two months from now.”
In April and May, the reports were closer to what Mather saw in 2019. But even though the tick count remains stable for the rest of the warm months, encounters with the small arachnids will remain a serious issue.
Not only can ticks carry Lyme disease, they can also cause other diseases. If left untreated, some of these can be fatal to both humans and pets.
And when sunny days send people outside to breathe fresh air in the middle of the pandemic, the risk of suffering from tick-borne illnesses or infections increases where ticks can be found. Here’s what you need to know if you keep tick guard this year.
What are the most serious tick-borne diseases?
Worrying about the coronavirus pandemic does not mean that other threats have disappeared.
As with Lyme disease, early symptoms of anaplasmosis include fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Antibiotics are effective against anaplasmosis, but if not treated, the disease can be fatal. Those with impaired immune systems are particularly at risk.
In Europe, viral tick-borne encephalitis is a problem, with 3,092 confirmed cases in EU countries 2018. There is an effective vaccine against the disease, which can cause fever, headache, paralysis and cramps. (Other tick-borne diseases in Europe include tick-borne relapsing fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and patches of the Mediterranean.)
However, the most common tick-borne danger in both the United States and Europe is still due to Lyme disease. And the vast majority of cases can go undetected.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headaches, muscle pain and a distinct rash from the bull’s-eye that expands from the bite itself. (Although a rash is a well-known sign of the infection, it occurs in 70% to 80% of cases.)
If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms can eventually be aggravated to include facial paralysis, palpitations and severe joint pain.
Keep cross protection outdoors
Gardner, the University of Maine medical entomologist, spends his days in the field drawing a brightly colored cloth through attachment environments. The ticks take hold of the fabric, where their dark bodies are clearly visible.
It is a research trick that you can customize to protect yourself. “Light-colored clothes can make it easier to see the ticks on you,” said Gardner, whose work often puts her in close contact with the small creatures.
Another way to protect against ticks is to put pants in socks. Because ticks creep up from the ground, it is easier to see them before slipping under your clothes.
“Removing these invasive plants in the landscape has the added benefit of inhibiting exposure to tick-borne pathogens,” Gardner said.
Are you looking for ticks – and what to do if you find one
Even if you exercise accurate fortress security when you are out, it is important to inspect yourself and your children for ticks when you return.
That means full-body control: Collaborate with someone who can inspect every corner of your body, or use a hand-held mirror to look at hard-to-see places. Some places where it is easy to miss ticks are the ears, inside the stomach, under the arms and on the back of the knees.
If you develop a rash or fever within a few weeks of finding a tick, contact your health care provider.
In areas with a high incidence of Lyme disease, it is a good idea to check in anyway; Depending on how long the tick has been attached or embedded, the supplier may recommend further treatment or monitoring.
How about your pets?
There are two considerations when it comes to pets and fortress security: protecting them and making sure that you are not exposed to ticks that they bring into the home.
Some of these diseases can be fatal.
Cats do not appear to be susceptible to Lyme disease. In the southern United States, however, they can catch the tick-borne Cytauxzoon felis, a parasitic disease that is often fatal. To protect your cat and your household, it is important to use an attachment prevention treatment if the animal spends time outdoors.
It’s a habit that will protect your pet, while preventing arachnids from attaching themselves to a vulnerable human food source: You.