Ick! It is Tick Season!
If you haven’t heard, ticks are abundant this season due to a mild winter. I removed one from our dog in February, which is unusual to see them that early. I took the one pictured above off my leg last week prompting me to do a little research on the subject of tick-borne diseases.
We live in Wisconsin where ticks are found in wooded, bushy or grassy areas. Ticks tend to hang out at the ends of the blades of grass or brush, then attach onto people or pets as they brush against the plant.
Tick-borne diseases are of concern. I lived through years of weird symptoms before my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was diagnosed, then for several years longer as my medications were adjusted and FRESH lifestyle developed. The thought of a tick-borne disease terrifies me, therefore I wanted to find out which tick species are common where I live and what diseases they can transmit. I suggest you do the same because different areas are home to different ticks.
Wood ticks and deer ticks are the two best known around here in western Wisconsin. Wood ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, although the incidence is low in the Midwest. The deer tick can transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and a rare, but scary Powassan virus infection.
Because I like to garden, mow the lawn, hike and walk the dog, I decided on four things to keep in mind as my anti-tick strategy.
Four Things to Keep in Mind for Anti-tick Strategy
Look for them on your body
If found remove carefully
Monitor for signs and symptoms afterward
Let’s look at each of these strategies:
Precaution: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has great suggestions. Avoiding wooded and bushy areas with high grasses and walking in the center of hiking trails is one precaution. Another precaution is using an insect repellent. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to find the insect repellent that is right for you and your family. I wear ankle length leggings tucked into my socks. Light colored clothing is best to be able to see potential ticks. Clothing can be treated with insecticide permethrin.
Look for them on your body: After hiking, gardening or whatever may have put me in contact with ticks, I take off all my clothes and look my body over. I look into a mirror and have my husband look at hard to see places like the back of my head and neck. I take a shower using a washcloth within 2 hours of coming indoors.
Remove tick carefully if found: Using a fine tweezer carefully pull the tick straight out. Once again the CDC has a great suggestion. After the tick is removed, use an alcohol pad, which we biologic users have an abundant supply I would guess, to wipe the area.
Monitor for symptoms afterward: The symptoms can be very non-specific. Rashes, especially the bulls-eye rash notorious in Lyme Disease are a few. Again, The CDC has a chart that lists common symptoms to look for and the respective tick-borne disease. I am going to monitor for symptoms for at least a month. I look at the area where I found the tick daily. If I feel flu-like symptoms or really anything out of the ordinary, I will contact my doctor.
We don’t want to live in fear, but we do live in a “new neighborhood” with an autoimmune disease. It’s just part of healthy habits to listen to our body and be aware of any changes. That is using Arthritis Wisdom!
I’d love to hear about your experiences or suggestions!
Take good care! XXOO Cathy