The warm season in the Southeast is upon us and along with that comes ticks. One of the biggest problems in the south during the warm spring and summer months. Such a little insect to be the topic of many conversations throughout the warm seasons.
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In this post, I am going to cover some simple preventative measures you can use to keep your family safe through tick season. I will also provide proper tick removal information and symptoms to watch for after removing an attached tick.
I certainly don’t know everything about ticks and the illnesses they can cause, but I do know a little more than most since I was bitten and contracted Lyme Disease, nine years ago. I can assure you that it is something I not only know about but will never forget!
My ordeal started one Saturday morning while heading to the bathroom to brush my teeth before grabbing my morning cup of coffee. I remember feeling a little off balance on my way to the bathroom. I just shrugged it off as being up early and went on to get my much-needed cup of coffee.
Over the next several days I noticed I started having muscle aches and some serious joint pain. Then came the night sweats, insomnia, headache, neck stiffness and unimaginable fatigue. I knew something was terribly wrong. The dizziness and imbalance got worse over the next week. I went to the doctors and they sent me for a CT Scan to make sure there was not something going on in the brain.
My doctor called me with the results and said everything looked good, but I did have a minor sinus infection so he put me on antibiotics to clear it up just in case that was the problem. Of course, it was not the problem. I continued to have such bad muscle aches that I decided to go have a deep tissue massage in hopes that it would help ease the pain.
As I was having the massage the therapist asked me a strange question. He said, “Do you live on a farm?” I laughed and replied, No, Why? He said, “Well it looks like you have ringworm under your arm.” That night as insomnia kicked in I remembered to go and look at this rash under my arm. As soon as I saw it I realized it was a bullseye rash. If you have never heard of that it is a rash that you get when you have been infected with Lyme Disease.
The next morning I headed to my doctor’s office where they took pictures and documented it. He then gave me the wonderful news that the antibiotics that he put me on for the sinus infection were the same antibiotic they treat for Lyme Disease! I cannot tell you how relieved I was.
My story ended differently than many others suffering from chronic Lyme Disease today. My heart goes out to them and since there are over 300,000 people each year diagnosed with Lyme Disease, I felt like I needed to share my story and the information I have learned through the years in hope that it will help to protect you and your family through tick season.
TICK BITE DISEASES: There are over a dozen tick born illnesses we can contract that the CDC list on their website. I am only going to cover the ones that are most common in the Southeast in this article but you can refer to the CDC link above for more information.
Some of these may be more familiar to you than others. All of these are caused either by deer, American dog or a lone star tick. Below is a chart of each tick at different stages of life that I mentioned above for reference.
PRECAUTIONS: The very best line of defense in keeping you and your family safe is taking precautions to keep ticks off of you. Here are some simple precautions:
- Spraying your yard is a great way to decrease the number of ticks you may come in contact with through the warm season months. We use Permethrin.
- Keeping ticks from getting on your shoes is the best way to keep them off of you. We use Permethrin. It is safe for humans but not for ticks! You simply spray on your shoes and let them dry. You now have a great barrier between you and the ticks.
- If a tick does make it up the shoe your second line of defense is long pants and long sleeve shirt. You can also spray all clothing with permethrin and let them dry completely before doing work in high brush or wooded areas.
- Use tick repellent. CDC recommendation is to use a repellent with DEET. It is entirely up to you. We prefer to use the Permethrin on our clothes and Sawyer Insect repellent on our skin.
- After coming in for the day we do a complete check of our body to make sure we have no ticks attached.
According to Mather’s Tick Encounter Research reports that ticks exposed to Permethrin-treated clothing died withing 10-20 seconds following contact.
PROPER TICK REMOVAL:
So what do you do if you found an attached tick? You have to remove it. I have removed many ticks and the best way I have found is removing them with a good pair of pointed tweezers. It is not recommended that you use dull tweezers as you could pull the tick apart.
Here is a Tick removal video to help you pull them correctly. I have always been able to successfully remove them using this method. FYI: the bite will remain red, swollen and itchy for a while. I mean it could be there for up to 8 weeks.
You only have 24 hours to remove an attached tick after that you are at risk of contracting a tick-borne illness. If the tick has been attached for longer than 24 hours you will need to be aware of the symptoms listed below. If any develop any of the symptoms over the next week or two you need to see a doctor for treatment. I recommend placing the tick you removed in a ziplock bag just in case you come down with any symptoms.
POTENTIAL SYMPTOMS OF TICK-BORNE DISEASE:
- Swollen lymph glands
- Neck Stiffness
- Muscle Aches
- Join Aches
- Full body rash
- Bullseye Rash
In closing, I hope the information in this post helps you to know what to do if you do find a tick and some of the precautions you can use to decrease you and your family’s chances of contracting any of these tick-borne diseases.
Until Next Time!