Ready or not, ticks are out. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness, but it’s not the only concern, said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a parasitic diseases expert at Mayo Clinic.
“There are other tick-borne diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus and Borrelia miyamotoi infection, and those are just diseases transmitted by the black-legged tick, formerly known as the deer tick,” Pritt said. “We have other ticks that will transmit the disease-causing agents of ehrlichiosis. Now there are new viruses, such as Bourbon virus and Heartland virus. And there is also Rocky Mountain spotted fever.”
Approximately 300,000 people each year are infected with Lyme disease by a tick bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are some tips to protect yourself:
• When possible, avoid areas where ticks and mosquitoes are more frequently found.
• Use repellent containing 30% or more of DEET.
• Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
• Tuck pants into socks while hiking.
If bitten by a tick, you should:
• Remove the tick promptly and carefully. Use fine-tipped forceps or tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull out the tick using a slow and steady upward motion. Avoid twisting or squeezing the tick. Experts don’t recommend using petroleum jelly, fingernail polish or a hot match to remove a tick.
• If possible, seal the tick in a container. Put the container in a freezer. Your health care provider might want to see the tick if you develop new symptoms.
• Wash your hands and the bite site. Use warm water and soap, rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub.