Tiny Ticks Can Cause Big Trouble
What you can't see can hurt you. Consider the tick, that tiny relative of the scorpion, mite, and spider. If you are bitten by an infected tick, you can come down with any number of unpleasant diseases, including Lyme disease, which can lead to a crippling form of arthritis if untreated.
There are various kinds of ticks and various kinds of medical treatment that are specific to the bite of each. But the best way to protect yourself is to prevent yourself from getting bitten in the first place.
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Common sense dictates that you avoid tick-infected areas. Local health officials can help you identify them. If you're unsure, suspect woodlands, marshes, grassy areasand anywhere deer run free. You can check for tick infestation by dragging a stick with a white cloth attached to it through the underbrush in the area you intend to explore.
When you hike, keep your body covered. Wear a long-sleeved shirt that buttons at the wrist, long pants, and socks. Tuck the pants into the socks to prevent the ticks from crawling up your leg.
It's a good idea to wear white or light colored clothing because ticks are easier to spot against a light background. After your hike, be sure to examine your skin and your clothing thoroughly. And make sure that ticks don't hitch a ride home on your pet.
Ticks are fairly small until after they bite.
Then, engorged with blood, they resemble a blackened blood blister with legs.
If you do get bitten, the tick will hold on for dear life. The sooner you can remove the tick, the better.
Don't be squeamish about pulling out a little skin with it. The sacrifice is worth it, as fast action may prevent infection.
If you don't find any ticks when you and your partner check each other out, don't assume you're safe. The tick that causes Lyme disease is so tiny you may have a hard time spotting it, and a tick bite isn't likely to be painful enough to attract your attention.
Pay attention to your body for the next four weeks; if you find any rashes or red spots that you can't account for, have your doctor check them out. It's especially important to see your doctor if the rash is accompanied by flulike symptoms.
Depending upon the region and the type of tick, these troublesome little bugs can transmit a whole host of diseases with exotic-sounding names, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, and babesiosis. Lyme disease is most common of all. The tick that causes it is so tiny most people don't even know they've been bitten until a rash resembling a bull's-eye shows up.
Rocky Mountain fever will give you a rash two to three days after the onset. Most likely it will break out on your wrists and ankles first, then spread to your trunk, palms, and soles of your feet. Colorado tick fever sets in three to five days after the bite. Expect recurring fever, chills, a headache, and perhaps nausea and vomiting as well.
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