Protection from a New Disease Caused by Tick Bites

deet-repellant.jpgSince I met my husband 9 years ago, I visit Wisconsin 3 to 5
times a summer. His family has a great cottage near Devil's Head, surrounded by
the beautiful green woods.  We hike
the area every time, but never any new trails.  I always do Balancing Rock, because in my mind I feel like
there are fewer ticks.  I am sure
this is not the case.  But the one
time we went on a new trail that was ground level, surrounded by tall grass and
trees, my husband and one of the dogs with us returned home with a tick.

My husband, a fireman was hardly concerned and of course I
was grossed out.  Okay a little
freaked out, but grossed out that a nasty bug was embedded in his skin.  He burnt it out of his leg, oblivious
to the flame that sat under his skin as the black alien-like creature ( in my
head ) wiggled to his death. 

dermnet_photo_of_tick_burrowing_in_skin.jpgTick bites can cause terrible diseases.  Most of us have heard of Lyme disease,
but have you heard of babesiosis? 
It is a newer infection caused by tick bites that is showing up on the
East Coast.  Babesiosis is a
malaria-like illness.  The
parasite, Babesia microti (it's real name), infects the red blood cells.   According to the CDC, it is
mostly caused by ticks in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.   It is the young nymph stage of the deer tick that actually
spreads the disease.  Since the
nymph is very small, most bitten may not even remember or notice.  They live in tall grasses and
bushes. 

There are about 1000 reported cases each year of this type
of infection from tick bites. 
Although many infected with the parasite have no symptoms at all, there
is concern over people donating blood. 

The range of symptoms are wide,  there are so many that there is no point in me mentioning
them.  You will just get paranoid
and freaked out.  The length the
illness ranges is days to months. 
Which of course is vague to even mention, since the flu can do the
same.  But if you want to read all
the details go to the CDC site.

The prevention tactics are simple:

  • Wear long sleeve and pants when walking through tall grass
    and bush.  Minimizing exposed skin
    makes the biggest difference.
  • Hike or walk on cleared paths. 
  • Wear light colored clothes so you can see the black pests
    when they latch onto you.
  • Apply repellents to your skin and clothing.  Use the products containing DEET.  
  • You can also use permethrin on your
    clothes and shoes, but not skin.
  • Perform tick checks after being out in the woods or places with tall grass. 
  • The best places to look are: under your arms, around the ears, inside of the belly button, in and around your hair, between your legs, in your groin and around your waist.

 

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