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How to Protect Yourself from Lyme Disease

How to Protect Yourself from Lyme Disease
April 26
10:26 2017

(HSI) – While Lyme Disease Awareness Month isn’t until May, so many ticks are expected to be active and looking for food early this year that those “in the know” are saying it should actually have been moved back to April.

The earlier arrival and bigger numbers of these blood-suckers is said to be caused by a bumper crop of acorns two years ago that caused the mouse population to skyrocket. (Mice transmit the Lyme bacteria to the ticks).

And the temperature only has to be at 40 degrees or above for Lyme-infected ticks to be active.

What all this means is that the time to be aware of ticks — and be careful outside — is right now.

And while the ticks that carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease are only as big as poppy seeds or small freckles when in the nymph stage, there are some important things you can do to stay safe (with Tip #2 being especially important!).

A tiny menace

Biologists and state health officials who specialize in tick-borne illnesses are saying that 2017 will probably top the charts with new cases of Lyme disease.

And the threat of Lyme disease is not something you want to take lightly.

It can run the gamut from early symptoms that feel like the flu, to later signs that can include episodes of severe fatigue, joint pain and swelling (that can jump from joint to joint), facial paralysis, muscle weakness and even brain and heart problems.

And that can happens years after you first get infected.

Celebrities who have suffered from the devastating long-term effects of the disease include musician Kris Kristofferson, who was positive his memory loss was due to Alzheimer’s — until he was treated for Lyme and returned to normal. Then there were Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter Kelly, who wasn’t diagnosed until ten years after the tick bite that almost killed her, and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills actress Yolanda Foster.

Lyme can also mimic diseases like MS, ALS, lupus and fibromyalgia and, as Kristofferson discovered, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Since getting properly treated for Lyme disease can be amazingly difficult, the best thing to do is make it a habit to check for ticks and get any that are attached off of you immediately. All it takes is around 48 hours for an attached tick to transmit Lyme disease to you.

And if you live in one of 14 high-Lyme disease states — such as New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and my home state of Maryland — you don’t need to be hiking through tall grass or deep in the woods to get a tick on you! That’s why I always check my two pups — Maci, a Shetland sheepdog, and Chance, a dachshund mix — carefully for ticks, even when we’ve just been walking in low-cut grassy areas.

So here are three good tips to keep these tiny menaces off you and your family.

Tick Tip #1: If you’ve been out in your yard gardening or mowing the grass, make it a habit to change your clothes and check for ticks afterwards. The places you’ll most often find them attached to you are behind the knees, around your waist, or inside your armpits. Since nymph deer ticks are so tiny, it’s sometimes better to feel for ticks, rather than just looking.

Tick Tip #2: To remove a tick, never use a match, nail polish remover or any other chemical. Lift the body up and pull it out — you can do that with your fingers, tweezers or one of those tick-removal devices (which are often sold by vets). While some may not like the idea of using their fingers to pull out a tick, believe me, it’s more important to get it out right away than to worry about the best way to do it.

Ticks on you pup can be removed the same way. And before you buy a flea and tick med for your dog, check out the Natural Resources Defense Council Green Paws flea and tick product directory so you can find out what the safest options are:

Tick Tip #3: If you’re planning to spend time outdoors, use a repellent with at least 30 percent DEET — but don’t spray your skin! Instead, give your shoes and socks some good squirts — and remember to take them off at the door when you get home.

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