The Great Outdoors is full of uncertainty. Simply by educating ourselves and knowing what to look for, we can avoid exposure to the many hazards in the woods. One of the biggest dangers is a deer tick bite. Unfortunately you could be bitten and not even realize it.
There is a chance that once bitten by a deer tick you could contract a condition called Lyme Disease.
Lyme Disease is a potentially debilitating condition which is spread by a certain bacteria, namely Borrelia Burgdorferi. This particular bacteria is most commonly found on deer ticks, which are not only found on the body of white-tailed deer, and other livestock, but also on the tips of grass and leaves.
This means that you can be infected by a deer tick simply by walking around in the wilderness, and the fact that a deer tick bite is basically pain-free, means that you could be infected by this condition, without even realizing it.
A deer tick is scientifically referred to as Ixodes Scapularis, and they are commonly known as blacklegged ticks. These are tiny, and can sometimes also be mistaken for a dog tick. The fact is that these are so small, you’re unlikely to even see them. The fact that deer ticks are so prevalent in the spread of Lyme Disease makes them very important to learn more about.
Deer ticks love the whitetail deer in particular, so it makes sense that they are going to be found in areas where this particular deer dwells. The eastern part of the USA is a common area, as well as the northeast however this is now spreading to the colder parts of the country too.
About Lyme Disease
Lyme Disease(1) can affect animals and humans, and when left untreated can become debilitating and very serious indeed. The fact that humans are unlikely to realize they have been bitten, and that symptoms can not only take a little time to incubate, but can also be easily confused with other conditions, means that Lyme Disease can be hard to diagnose by healthcare professionals.
For that reason, it is important to recognize the symptoms of deer tick bites. Tell your doctor that you have been out and about in a wooded or grassy area recently. Symptom and disease awareness is vital when not only recognizing Lyme Disease, but also to treat it before it becomes extremely serious.
Lyme Disease can be treated easily with a strong course of antibiotics, if it is recognized early and treated accordingly. If the condition isn’t diagnosed, the disease may quickly incubate and spread, affecting the heart and nervous system.
If a person has already suffered a weakness in these areas of their body, they are even more susceptible to complications. The fact that Lyme Disease is discussed in healthcare circles so much these days, should tell you a lot about its seriousness, and the importance of being symptom and risk aware.
The main symptoms of Lyme Disease, as we mentioned, can be confused with other conditions, but overall you should be on the look out for:
- A gradual fever which can spike suddenly and be prolonged
- A headache that is either prolonged, or increases in intensity
- Fatigue and a feeling of no energy whatsoever
- A rash, which can occur anywhere on the body
While the fever, headache and fatigue are likely to point to many different ticks disease(2) conditions, the rash is often the tell tale symptom which leads to a diagnosis of Lyme Disease. Be sure to advise your healthcare professional about your ventures out into the wilderness. This may help speed up a diagnosis, therefore making the disease much less serious for you.
Of course, Lyme Disease doesn’t just affect humans, but livestock also. If a herd of livestock are affected by Lyme Disease, this can be extremely serious for farmers, and the backlegged tick are almost always at the heart of the issue.
How to Avoid a Deer Tick Bite, and Ultimately Lyme Disease Transmission
Learning how to avoid a tick bite is the best way to avoid contracting Lyme Disease, but as we mentioned, this can be difficult at times, because the bite is pain-free, and these ticks are so hard to see.
However, the following points can help you avoid being bitten:
- Wear a repellent – Insect and deer tick repellents can certainly help you minimise the chances of being bitten, but one insecticide in particular is shown to be great for annoying deer ticks. Permethrin-treated clothing, such as socks, are a great way to avoid bites.
- Cover up as much as possible – Whilst it’s not impossible to be bitten through clothing, the chances are less if you are covered.
- Wear light-coloured clothing – The lighter the colour, the easier it will be for you to identify the presence of a deer tick, despite their small size. This means you can take action prior to being bitten, or to know that you have been bitten and seek help.
- Shower when you return home – Of course, you’re going to have a shower once you’ve been out and about in the Great Outdoors, but you should check your body for any bite marks or signs of irritation.
- Remove the tick if you have been bitten – If the deer tick is engorged, then you need to remove the tick from your skin with a pair of tweezers and then look out for any symptoms, or seek help sooner if you are concerned.
Now you know how important it is to identify a deer tick, take action if you have been bitten, by removing the tick, and also to be symptom-aware. Lyme Disease is a condition which can spread to the vital organs and cause huge problems, especially for the elderly, or those who have a past medical history of problems in these areas. For that reason, we should all be Lyme Disease aware.
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