As summer approaches, people are heading out to enjoy the beauty of the Upper Peninsula. The increased temperature, however, also brings out ticks. Ticks can harbor a wide variety of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and anaplasmosis. Lyme disease cases in the UP have increased in recent years, so it is essential to increase your effort to protect yourself from ticks.
Lyme disease is caused by a bite from a tick, typically a deer tick, infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is easily preventable and can be treated with antibiotics if identified early. Use the following tips to protect yourself from Lyme disease.
- Be aware tick habitat. Ticks prefer bushes, tall grasses, woods and yards.
- Wear a repellant that is effective against ticks, containing up to 30 percent DEET, or Permethrin can be used to pre-treat fabric and can protect against tick bites for at least two weeks
- Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily and long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats, and socks when traveling through tick habitats. Ticks will move upwards and try to find exposed skin, so check clothing regularly for wandering ticks.
- Examine yourself for ticks frequently when you are in tick habitats. Ticks can be very small and often latch on to your body in hard to see areas. Examine your clothing and gear for ticks also. Ticks can move off of these items and attach to you at a later time if they are not caught.
- If you remove a tick from your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull with steady, even pressure. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with antiseptic. Monitor the site for a large, reddish rash, often called a bull’s-eye rash, which may appear and expand around the site of the tick bite. If you see a bull’s-eye rash around the site of a tick bite or experience any of the symptoms mentioned below, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
- Pets can also harbor ticks. Check pets regularly and remove ticks before they can be brought into your home. Consider using tick control products recommended by your veterinarian.
Anyone with a known tick bite or who has been in a tick habitat should watch for symptoms for at least 30 days after the exposure. In addition to the bull’s-eye rash, initial signs and symptoms of Lyme disease mimic the flu and include fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, and muscle aches that appear a few days after the bite. These initial symptoms may clear up and then reappear. Some people infected with Lyme disease will show no symptoms at all during the first month of infection. Secondary symptoms can begin to appear weeks or months after the initial tick bite and may include heart and nervous system problems, meningitis, facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), as well as pain in the joints, tendons, and muscles. If symptoms develop, call your physician.
Additional information regarding Lyme disease can be obtained at Western Upper Peninsula Health Department offices, or by visiting the following:
Michigan Lyme Disease Risk Map
Michigan Tick ID Card
Look beyond the Bullseye: Signs of a Tick Bite
Signs and Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease