If you do any camping or take part in other outdoor activities this summer, you’ll want to be on the lookout for ticks. Although tiny, the insects are far from harmless. In a new report, the Food and Drug Administration has outlined the danger posed by ticks as well as what citizens across the country can do to mitigate the risk. If you’re headed to a wooded area at any point in the coming months, it’s imperative that you study the advice.
You first have to realize the threat. The FDA estimates that there are around ten types of diseases that can be attributed to ticks, most notably Lyme disease. However, recent years have seen a surge in the number of cases of something known as Babesiosis. Caused by a tiny parasite of a similar name that can be transmitted by ticks, the disease typically leads to the types of maladies one would associate with food poisoning: nausea, aches and pains, fever, fatigue, and more. Also like foodborne illness, the threat is greater among susceptible populations (newborns, the elderly, those with weak immune systems).
A survey was taken among 18 states two years ago, and 1,124 cases of Babesiosis were confirmed or deemed likely, a far cry from the up to 30,000 or so people diagnosed with Lyme disease annually, but still enough to give health officials pause. Certain states in the Eastern half of the country, New England in particular, appear to be more at risk.
Still, living in California doesn’t mean that you’re out of the woods when you’re out in the woods. And the best way to protect against things like Lyme disease is to avoid getting a tick bite in the first place.
To that end, the FDA advises all persons headed outdoors to prepare for safety. You should minimize the amount of skin exposed to the elements. Put on a long sleeve shirt and pants, making sure the latter is tucked into your socks. In this way, a tick will hopefully be unable to latch onto you. Further reduce the threat by spraying an insecticide with labels that detail its ability to defend against ticks.
If you are bit by a tick, the good news is that it’s going to take about a day and a half on average for some sort of parasite to be transmitted. Thus, you can protect yourself if you check your body the moment you head indoors. That means looking all over your body, including neglected places like your hair or between your toes. You can hop in the shower to do this.
Should you spot a tick, your best option is to grab some tweezers, bringing them as near to your skin as possible, and pulling the tick off. In this way, you grab the tick’s mouth rather than its body and ensure no parts get left behind.