Hikers, birders, and anyone else who spends time outdoors, recreating, raking leaves or enjoying a backyard BBQ need to be cognizant of the risks of Lyme. Ticks present a real and imminent threat, and Lyme disease symptoms can persist for years, and often result in lifelong suffering and disability.
Flying insects such as blackflies, mosquitoes and deer flies are obvious pests. We can see them or hear them buzzing around our head or neck, and as a result, it is fairly easy to protect against them. We can swat them, spray them or even wear a head net in extreme conditions.
However, ticks are more difficult to repel than mosquitoes or blackflies. They are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, and we rarely see them or feel them. Ticks do not have a piercing bite, and they rarely draw blood. Unlike flying pests, ticks don’t target the head and neck.
Rather, they often attach and attack around the ankles, or legs, where they are picked up from the tall grass.
Repellents provide some protection against ticks, as does wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
However, even the best of efforts cannot always keep ticks away. Outdoor travelers are advised to examine their clothing carefully after every woodland jaunt and to remove any ticks before they can attach themselves.
In most cases tick attachment takes 36 hours or longer, which provides plenty of time to take preventive measures. If you discover that a tick has embedded itself, it is wise to seek medical attention as soon as possible since early treatment with antibiotics almost always results in a full cure.
The first apparent symptom of a tick bite is a rash resembling a bullseye that is about two inches in diameter near the site of the bite. Early symptoms normally occur within three to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick, but don’t always.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.