by Victoria Simpson
With Avril Lavigne opening up about her battle with Lyme Disease in an interview on ABC News this week, it’s clear that the disease is on the rise and that with summer in full swing it’s important to know how to protect yourself.
Lyme Disease is an infectious illness caused by the spread of bacteria through the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (formerly deer tick). It was diagnosed for the first time in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut and while the government of Canada reports that the number of cases have jumped from 128 in 2009 to 682 in 2013, (reports for 2014 are still being validated), Jim Wilson president of the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation says that the actual number is probably in the thousands.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S reports about 30, 000 cases of Lyme Disease each year.
The illness is contracted when an infected tick bites the body and lodges itself under the skin for at least 36 to 48 hours. Sufferers can show multiple symptoms including a rash, (like the one above), flu-like symptoms, fatigue and impairment of motor or sensory functions.
Key things to know about ticks include the fact that they can’t jump and that they live in shady, moist areas near ground level in tall grass, lawns, gardens and at the edges of wooded areas.
If you avoid these areas, you can probably avoid being infected with a tick.
If you can’t avoid contact with tick environments but you still wish to enjoy the outdoors and not panic every time you open the front door, read on.
1) KEEP A TIGHT WEAVE
Wear light-coloured clothing with a tight weave to help spot ticks on you easily.
2) NO SANDALS
Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pant legs into your socks or boots and your shirt into your pants to prevent easy access.
3) CHECK, CHECK, CHECK
Do a personal one-over and check your clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
4) USE REPELLENT
Use anti-tick insect repellent.
5) STAY CENTERED…
Walk in the middle of trails while hiking and avoid dense wooded areas.
6) …BUT NOT GROUNDED
Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
7) TIE IT BACK
Keep long hair tied back at all times, even while gardening.
8) KEEP CLEAN
Take a bath or shower as soon as possible once you’re inside (preferable within two hours of coming in). This enables you to wash off ticks and see any that have become embedded in you, more easily.
9) DO A FINAL TICK CHECK
Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of each the day outside (this includes children and pets), and remove anything suspicious right away.
9 things to remember. Enjoy the great outdoors this summer and stay safe.