Spring and summer mean better weather and enjoyment of the great outdoors. A word of warning though, please be aware of our least favorite members of the natural world – TICKS.
These little insects are in forests, tall grasses, sand dunes, fields of clover and other beautiful spots. They survive by leaping on us (and dogs and cats) and sucking our blood so they may reproduce before they die. Unfortunately this unpleasant form of contact can allow the transmission of illnesses like Lyme disease, Erhlichiosis, Babesiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
As with many illnesses, prevention is the best protection! Long, light colored clothing helps prevent ticks from getting on the skin and aids in their detection. A self check for ticks after an outdoor activity is also an excellent idea. Be sure to have a mirror available to visualize those hard to see areas. After a self check, a thorough bath or shower is a must.
Most tick borne illness requires a tick to be feeding on its human host for greater than 24 hours so don’t panic if you find one after your outdoor activity. If there is any sign of rash or infection around a tick bite or anywhere on the body, you should make an appointment at UHCS or with your primary care clinician. If you develop a fever above 102 degrees F, rash or decreased mental functioning after a tick bite, you should be checked out right away.
The bacterial diseases a tick bite can transmit have symptoms that range from mild fever, body aches, headache and fatigue to a life threatening septic shock. Long term health problems are possible and become more likely with delays in diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, treatment is fairly routine and if caught early, highly effective. Testing and therapy is available here at UHCS and we are happy to examine any insects brought in.
So, go forth and enjoy the world but be sure to check yourself upon the return from the outdoors and please seek medical attention if you have any questions.