Checking for Ticks
Your shot is not going as planned. Your ball hooks left and lands in the woods, and you must go retrieve it. There’s high grass and trees — and ticks.
Outdoor activities, such as golf, can increase your risk of exposure to deer tick bites, and those bites could result in Lyme disease. This is especially true in Connecticut, an area where there is a high risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Deer ticks feed on deer and mice, and they are found in tall grass and shrubs. These ticks can attach to animals or people who are walking by, and they bite. So, if your shot goes awry, you may be more at risk of getting bitten.
Lyme disease is an infectious illness transmitted to humans through bites from these infected deer ticks (also known as infected blacklegged ticks). The bites are commonly found on the thigh, groin or armpit, and symptoms of Lyme disease can include:
- Skin rash (The rash looks like a bull’s eye with bumps in a circle around the clear area in the center, and it usually develops at the site of a tick bite. It is called erythema migrans.)
Most cases of Lyme disease occur in late spring or summer. In the United States, recent studies suggest that approximately 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, and that number may increase this year. Forecasters are predicting warmer, wetter weather this spring and summer, and humidity is an environment ideal for ticks. An increase in tick activity will mean that you have a greater risk of getting Lyme disease.
How do you know if you need medical care?
Several days to weeks after you see that distinct skin rash, Dr. Irida Molla, who specializes in infectious disease, says you may develop other skin lesions. These will be smaller and will be more faint in color in the center compared to the edges. You may also develop the other symptoms mentioned above, including fatigue, headache and fever. If left untreated, the infection can spread to your joints, heart and nervous system. That’s why it is important to see a medical provider.
How is Lyme disease diagnosed?
Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings like that rash and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Sometimes, laboratory tests may also help if they are performed properly and the information used correctly.
Can Lyme disease be treated?
The good news is that most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully! Many patients must take antibiotics for a few weeks to treat the infection.
How can you avoid getting Lyme disease?
Dr. Molla says the best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is to protect yourself from ticks. As you make your way through golf season, she recommends the following:
- Wear shoes, long-sleeve shirts and long pants during outdoor activities, including golf.
- If you are on the golf course, or in a tick-infested area, complete a tick check. Checking your body and clothing for ticks is very important.
- Clothing can be placed in the dryer and tumble dried on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks.
- Take a shower! Taking a shower within two hours of being outdoors reduces your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering will help remove any ticks that are not already attached to your body.
- If a tick is attached to the skin, tweezers should be used to remove it. Remove any ticks with the tweezers as soon as you notice them. (Note: Ticks generally cannot transmit Lyme disease unless they are attached to your body for at least 36 hours!)
- If you are treating a lawn, use insecticides containing DEET or permethrin. They effectively deter ticks.
Irida Molla, MD
- Middletown, CT
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