Warmer weather means we’re spending more time outdoors — and potentially more exposure to a tiny creature that poses big problems.
I’m talking about ticks, a biting, blood-sucking bug not much bigger than a pinhead.
Ticks are in the spider family and there are hundreds of different kinds of ticks in the world. Many of them carry bacteria, viruses or other pathogens that cause disease in humans and/or animals.
Ticks are everywhere, increasing in numbers, and spreading a terrible illness called Lyme disease. More than 300,000 people in the U.S. are affected by Lyme disease annually.
To help us understand just how serious the problem is, what we can do to prevent being infected, we talked to Dorothy Leland, from LymeDisease.org. You can here her interview yourself on Episode 128 of the RV Podcast.
To set the record straight, she explained that ticks are basically a nationwide problem.
“There was a recent study by the (Center for Disease Control) that found the kind of ticks that can carry Lyme Disease are established in half of all counties in the United States, and that’s all over the place,” Leland told Roadtreking, adding that there’s a chance there could be even more based on the way numbers are reported.
Leland said ticks can essentially be “anywhere that there is a lot of growth” and that can mean just about anywhere from piles of leaves to grassy and wooded areas, just to name a few.
Making matters worse, according to Leland, is the fact they basically “waiting for their next meal to walk by and they don’t care if it’s an animal or you.”
“They’re just looking for blood,” she said.
Whenever you plan outdoor activities this summer, Leland suggests simple steps to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease:
- Wear long sleeves and pants and tuck your pants inside your socks. Light-colored clothing will make it easier to spot ticks. Don’t wear open-toed shoes and sandals.
- Use insect repellents containing .5 percent permethrin (brand name Nix) or 20 to 30 percent DEET. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
- Walk down the center of mowed trails to avoid brushing against grass and shrubs.
- At the end of each day, carefully inspect yourself, children and pets and remove any attached ticks. Tick bites are painless so you probably won’t feel it if you’re bitten. Remove attached ticks with thin-tipped tweezers by grasping them as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight up. Be careful not to squeeze the tick. It may contain infectious fluids. Clean the site with rubbing alcohol or skin disinfectant.
- Wash and dry all clothing. Ticks can survive a wash cycle but can’t withstand an hour in a hot dryer.
- Check with your doctor and watch for early symptoms of Lyme disease.
Meanwhile, Jennifer and I have two ways to deal with ticks:
Here’s a tick removal tool we carry with us.
And we also use lint removal rollers like these to go over our own self and Bo’s when coming in from the outside.
For information on how to remove a tick, go here.