Summer break is here and the desire to run, walk, play, garden, hike, and so much more outside is high. However, before you or your children take a stroll outside you’ll want to protect yourself and loved ones from ticks that often lurk in tall grass, wooded areas and thick brush.
The hidden danger with ticks is that many of them carry disease, so do what you can to keep ticks from biting you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that last year nearly 60,000 cases of tick-borne disease were reported to the CDC by state health departments and the District of Columbia.
First things first, ticks are small eight-legged arachnids that feed on blood through biting the person or animal they latch onto and require blood meals to complete their life cycles.
Ticks are transmitters of diseases to both humans and animals. Tick-borne diseases tend to have similar symptoms that may develop days to weeks after a tick bite, such as fever, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain and decreased appetite.
The well-known “bull’s eye” rash (red centered rash with circular red rash around the outside) that often appears after a tick bite is associated with Lyme’s disease, which is one of the most common diseases transmitted by ticks.
If you or a loved one notice any of the above symptoms, especially a “bull’s eye” shaped rash, please see a doctor promptly to be evaluated and treated accordingly.
Tick bites are commonly treated with antibiotics.
The best way to avoid Lyme’s disease and other tick-borne diseases is to prevent tick bites from occurring. Help keep ticks off your skin by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and long socks when outside.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggest wearing insect repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes) when going outside to help keep ticks away.
Also to avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid tall grass areas. Remember to always check your clothes and skin carefully for ticks after being outside.
Removing ticks right away can help prevent tick-borne disease since they often dig and burrow into the skin before they bite.
The NIH recommends you promptly remove ticks to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases.
The NIH suggests you take the following steps when removing a tick:
• Use fine-tipped tweezers.
• Grab the tick close to the skin and gently pull upward to remove the entire tick.
• Don’t use home remedies like petroleum jelly, nail polish or a lit match to try to detach ticks.
• After removing the tick, clean the area and wash your hands thoroughly.
• If you develop a fever, severe headache or a rash within days to weeks of removing the tick, see a doctor.
Be aware of ticks and make a habit of tick prevention as you venture out into the great outdoors.
Please do not forget to check your children and yourself thoroughly for ticks after playing and/or working outside.
Coordinated School Health wishes you a fun, safe and tick-free summer. For further questions and/or concerns please contact your school’s nurse or 644-3916.
KAYLA GLOVER is a registered nurse, the Henry County School System’s family and community coordinator, and nurse at Lakewood School. Her email address is gloverk@ henryk12.net.