Before venturing out this summer make sure you take some precautions against Lyme disease. Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases can be transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Ways you can protect your family this summer:
• Wear light-colored clothing. This allows you to spot ticks more easily.
• Wear a hat and long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your clothes in, shirts into pants and pants into socks.
• Use an insect repellant with DEET on exposed skin.
• When hiking, stay in the middle of the trails, and try to avoid underbrush, fallen trees, and tall grass.
• Always perform a tick check when returning in from outdoors or when outdoors for extended periods of time.
• If you do find a tick, use a pair of fine-pointed tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull gently and firmly until tick releases; this may take several tries. Avoid crushing or killing the tick while it is still attached to the skin. Once the tick is removed clean the area with an antiseptic, such as alcohol.
• Save live ticks for testing. Directions and forms can be found at www.mlda.org.
Lyme Disease may cause symptoms such as a rash which only appears in about 68% of cases, and not necessarily at the bite site. Other symptoms that may appear are flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, fatigue or weakness. Symptoms can appear days to weeks after a tick bite. If gone untreated, Lyme disease can lead to sever heart, neurological, eye, and joint problems because the bacteria can affect many different organs and systems in the body.
For a free packet of information on Lyme disease contact the Michigan Lyme Disease Association at 1-888-784-5963 or visit our website at www.mlda.org.