It's tick season, and with those little critters comes the threat of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
How do you get Lyme Disease?
To contract Lyme disease, an infected deer tick must bite you. The bacteria enter your skin through the bite and eventually make their way into your bloodstream. In most cases, to transmit Lyme disease, a deer tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours.
Why is it worse this year?
The reason expert are predicting a jump in human Lyme disease cases now is because of a bumper crop of acorns falling from oak trees nearly two years ago.
More acorns leads to more mice, leads to more infected ticks, leads to more Lyme disease in us.
Dr. Thomas Mather, professor of Public Health Entomology at the University of Rhode Island and Director of URI’s Tick Encounter Resource Center, has some tips on protecting your family from the risks.
YOUR YARD: Ticks are not out in the middle of your lawn, they live where yards border wooded areas, or anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity. Place a layer of wood chips between your grass yard and the woods' edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture it provides.
TICK CHECKS: Do periodic tick checks (on yourself, children and pets) and carefully remove any found. (Wear light colored clothing so ticks are easier to find.)
IDENTIFY/AVOID TICK HABITATS - OUTDOOR PURSUITS: Shady, wooded and weedy edges are favorite spots for ticks to hang out. Avoiding tick habitats can be difficult but there are plenty of ways - such as always walking in the middle of maintained trails - to limit tick encounters.
When on a hike, bike, or walk try to remain in the center of a trail in order to minimize your exposure.
Remember - ticks cannot fly, they crawl up. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, woodpiles or fallen logs - areas where ticks love to live.
REMOVE TICKS SAFELY: To safely remove attached ticks, first disinfect the area with an alcohol swab. Next, using a pointy tweezers, grab the tick "head" as close to the skin as possible and simply pull straight out. Remember to disinfect the bite site again after pulling the tick out.