It’s Monday morning and you’re returning to work, all smiles, after a wonderful weekend backpacking with friends. By Wednesday, all of a sudden, you’re not feeling so well. You’re feeling a bit of nausea and weakness. Sitting around for too long also makes you experience joint pain. “What could it be?” you ask yourself. “Maybe I’m catching some sort of bug from one of my co-workers,” you tell yourself. While that may be true, it is likelier you’ve brought back a stowaway from your weekend adventures and you’re experiencing classic symptoms of a tick-borne disease.
With backpacking and hiking season in full swing, it is important to know tick season is also in full swing. And these little stowaways are quietly lying waiting to hitch a free ride on an unsuspecting soul. Quietly these tiny arachnids will crawl their way, usually but not always, to dark moist areas (groin area, arm pits, butt crack, etc), where they begin to feast on their host, in this case you.
Fighting a bout with lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not fun. Fortunately, there are some things one can do to help reduce the risk of one of these little blood suckers contracting you some disease.
- Treat your clothes and gear with permethrin. It is known to kill ticks on contact. (Deet does not work for ticks).
- Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are readily visible, plus those colors are better in warmer temperatures.
- Wear a hat, long sleeves and pants. You’ll have the added benefit of being protected from sun burns.
- Frequently inspect for ticks on yourself, children, and pets during outdoor activities and especially after undressing Groin, navel, armpits, waist, head and behind knees and ears are especially vulnerable
- Dry outdoor clothes at least 20-30 minutes in the dryer to kill any ticks attached to them.
- Avoid tall grass and dense vegetation; stay on cleared paths and trails whenever possible.
- Don’t encourage deer to feed in your yard.
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick protection products for your pets; pets can bring ticks into your yard and/or home
- If you have been in tick-infested areas and experience illness or rash, contact your doctor immediately.