Posted by – Shawn Keenan, Assistant City Planner
It’s that time of year, bright sunshine and warm weather – perfect conditions to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. However, it’s also time to protect against Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. The unseasonably warm winter we experienced here in the great State of Michigan is expected to result in an increase in the tick population. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported 221 reported human cases of Lyme Disease last year and several cases have already been reported this year.
While people know that ticks are found outdoors, they may forget that includes parks, golf courses, and backyards. The Oakland County Health Division encourages people to take extra precaution in areas most likely to be infested, such as wooded or grassy areas, especially where deer and wildlife are present. This is the best way to avoid potential infection.
Protect yourself before you venture outdoors by taking some of these steps:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, light-colored pants and closed-toed shoes
- Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET (20% – 30%) or Picaridin to exposed skin and to clothing
- Apply permethrin to clothes and shoes but not directly to skin
After enjoying the outdoors in areas were ticks may be present, immediately check your entire body for ticks and take a hot shower as soon as possible. Parents may want to help their children check their bodies for ticks. Let’s not forget about dogs and cats because ticks can also enter your home on pets. Check pets often.
If you discover a tick attached to your skin, remove it quickly. According to the Center if Disease Control, if it is removed within 24 hours you greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease.
- Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible
- Pull gently but firmly, but do not squeeze the body of the tick
- Try to pull the tick out without leaving mouth parts embedded in the skin
- After removing the tick, wash hands and bite area thoroughly with soap and running water
- Apply an antibacterial cream to the site of the bite
You may get a small bump or redness that goes away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease.
Improtant Note: Do not remove ticks by putting hot matches, nail polish, or petroleum jelly on the tick to try to make it pull away from your skin. Be sure to see a doctor about your tick bite if you develop a fever, a rash, sever fatigue, facial paralysis or joint pain within 30 days of being bitten by a tick. It is important to get treatment right away if you develop symptoms.
For more information on Lyme disease, visit www.oakgov.com/health.