Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ticks & Lyme Disease

I probably should've done a post like this at the beginning of the summer, but we're headed off to go camping this weekend so I figured I should do some research about tick removal.  I've acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge about Lyme over the years, but it's primarily been focused on symptoms and treatment.  I know (from my own personal experience) that prevention and awareness are key factors... if you don't catch it early or get the proper treatment then you're likely in for a long road to recovery!

Below I've listed the 5 states with the highest incidence rates of Lyme.  Before doing that, I must mention that this information is coming from the CDC website, which is said to be highly unreliable and that the reported rates are 10 times lower than the actual number of cases (so these numbers should be multiplied by 10!).  Having said that, here are the figures for 2009:

1) Pennsylvania = 5,722
2) New York = 5,651
3) Massachusetts = 5,256
4) New Jersey = 4,973
5) Connecticut = 4,153

Although the above listed states appear to have the highest incidence rates, you can get Lyme ANYWHERE.  Cases have been confirmed in every single state!  Click here to see an interactive map of the incidence rates in the dog population.  It lets you enter your zip code and check the incidence for your county.  Be aware that they also mention that the rates are probably much higher due to underreporting!

So..... what do you do if a tick decides to latch on to you?

Here is a great video on tick removal:

And you can also check out this great step-by-step guide on how to remove a tick on the CALDA website.

Some prevention tips:
  • don't sit on tree stumps or lean up against trees
  • wear light colored clothing, ideally long sleeves and pants
  • tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks
  • when camping or hiking, walk in the middle of paths
  • consider using DEET (if you feel comfortable with it's chemical content)
  • do a tick check daily, and for several days after exposure to an environment that might have ticks
  • put your clothes in the dryer (on high) for an hour after exposure
Read more about prevention and tick removal over at CALDA.

A recipe for a make-your-own tick removal kit:
  • sandwich bag
  • gloves
  • pointed tweezers
  • alcohol pads
  • bandaids
  • neosporin 
  • another sandwich bag (in case you want to save the tick)
Or you can click here to order a tick removal kit from the Lyme Disease Foundation.

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