Look for the Bull's Eye

Being outdoors in spring, summer and fall can expose you to tick bites that can result in Lyme Disease. The onset of warmer weather, coupled with the fact that many of our projects are outdoors, our chances of being exposed to tick bites which can transmit Lyme Disease increases. 

In the Eastern United States Lyme Disease is primarily spread by Blacklegged (or Deer) Ticks. Data collected by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows Blacklegged Ticks are found in 37 states across the Eastern United States, this includes most of the states where Wachs Services is currently working. 

Left untreated, lyme disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease. Prompt removal of attached ticks (within 24 to 36 hours) can decrease the risk of infection. Lyme disease cases have tripled in the United States over the last 2 decades, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the Northern Hemisphere. The disease now affects around 300,000 Americans each year. 

 
 

Identification of a Tick Bite and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Tick bites are usually painless and most people do not know they have been bitten. When a person is infected, symptoms usually develop within one to two weeks and include the following: 

  • Fever 
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Fatigue 
  • Swollen glands 
  • Skin rash, especially one that looks like a red bull’s eye

Prevention

The best defense against getting bit is a conscious effort to avoid areas where ticks are likely waiting such as long grass and low bushes.  If this is not possible you need to take time to inspect yourself after being in tick prone areas. 

Additionally:

  • Wear light- colored clothing to help find ticks more easily. 
  • Wear closed-toed shoes, long sleeve shirts that fit tightly around the wrist, and long-legged pants tucked into your socks or boots. 
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET to repel ticks. Apply to both clothes and skin. Always read the label and follow instructions for use.
  • Check for ticks on and under clothing and pay attention to the armpits, in and around ears, behind knees, areas with body hair, and the navel and groin areas.
  • Take a shower shortly after being outdoors.
  • Wash clothes promptly and put them in the dryer with heat to help kill any ticks that may remain.
  • Carefully remove ticks found attached to the skin. Gently use fine pointed tweezers to grasp head of the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly to remove the whole tick.
  • Save all removed ticks in a plastic ziplock baggy to present to your doctor incase symptoms appear within 2 weeks.
  • If any of the symptoms of Lyme disease develop, contact your doctor immediately.

Identification of Blackleg Ticks

Blackleg Ticks are also known as Deer ticks. These ticks are often mistaken for brown dog ticks. Deer ticks are common to the eastern United States and earn their name for commonly feeding on white-tailed deer. The pests use other large mammals, like pets, livestock, and humans, as hosts, as well. These ticks are brownish in color, and can vary in length from 3 mm to 10 mm, with the female being larger. In most cases, a deer tick is usually half the size of the common American dog tick.

For more information about Lyme disease -
including tips on how to remove a tick -
please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!