Apr. 3rd, 2012

lizcommotion: a forest filled with sunlight and small purple flowers (spring trees)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
I've just spent the past six to seven years coping with untreated and undiagnosed Lyme disease, a disease which is quite easy to get if you spend a lot of time out in the woods. So as it is a royal pain in the arse, I thought I'd do a quick Lyme disease FAQ/linkspam to hopefully help people avoid having the same problem.

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick (usually a deer tick, which often resembles a poppy seed).
Read more about Lyme disease... )
How can I prevent Lyme disease?

I love being outside, and I do not plan, as one author has suggested, to build a 10 foot high electric deer fence around my yard to keep out tick hosts. Nor do I intend to stop feeding the birds, as I am an avid birder and feel that they're losing a lot of food due to habitat loss in my neighborhood.

However, there are some concrete steps you can take if you plan to be outside:
  1. Use an insect repellent containing permethrin on your clothing. Permethrin kills ticks (and other things) so it's important not to get it on you. Rather, you treat your clothing. So, for example: have a pair of hiking pants that you spray with permethrin (outside in a well-ventilated area when you're not wearing them). Let them dry, and bingo! instant tick risk reduction. The permethrin will last through several washes.
  2. Wear long pants. I know it gets hot in summer, but consider: being a little hot, or getting Lyme disease? Similarly, it's best if you can tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks crawling up your pants or if you have those pants with the drawstrings at the bottom that let you pull them closed. Also, if it's that hot, maybe you should just go swimming at the pool instead of hiking.
  3. Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see if there is a tick crawling on it.
  4. If you can, avoid long grasses where ticks like to hang out.
  5. When you come home, do a tick check to see if you've missed any on your body. This includes those hard-to-spot crevices. Often times it's hard to feel a tick bite and they can be the size of a poppy seed. The longer they're attached, the more likely they are to transmit infection. Check you (and your pets) after a walk to make sure you didn't bring anyone home.
  6. If you get a tick bite, know how to remove it (tweezers, not a match!) and save the tick so that it can be tested. Also, if you are bitten, be alert for any of the symptoms of Lyme listed above. You don't want to miss it.
Hopefully I haven't scared anyone off a walk in the woods and instead have made it a safer place for everyone except for ticks.

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May 2012

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