With the arrival of summer in Oregon comes warmer temperatures and more time spent outdoors. Increased time outdoors may lead to a heightened risk for tick bites, which could end in contracting Lyme disease. Ticks are commonly found hiding in the woods and grasslands around Corvallis, and summer is when adult ticks are most active. A tick bite usually results in flu-like symptoms, but if it is left untreated, the disease can worsen and lead to an impairment of the brain and nervous system.
Lyme disease, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention website, is caused by bacteria transmitted by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, which “attach themselves to their host in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, or scalp,” as read on the CDC website.Ticks cannot fly or jump, so they perch on the tips of grasses and bushes to await a passing host.
The Oregon Health Authority claims that 40 to 50 human cases are diagnosed in the state each year, but the disease can be easily misdiagnosed. Common early symptoms of lyme disease include fever, rash, headache, and muscle aches. After several days of receiving a tick bite, later symptoms can include a “bull’s eye appearance” around the bite as it fades, numbness in the hands or feet, and shortness of breath. Treatment of lyme disease usually involves a prescription of antibiotics, which almost always results in a full recovery.
In order to prevent tick bites after spending time outdoors, the CDC recommends performing a tick check, which is a thorough examination of your clothes and any exposed skin for ticks using a mirror to view all parts of the body. If a tick is found attached to your skin or clothing, it is advised to remove them with tweezers as soon as possible to prevent the possible transmission of the disease.
Humans are not the only ones susceptible to tick bites. Pets who spend time outdoors, even in the backyard, are exposed to the dangers of lyme disease. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association advises pet owners to prevent tick bites by using a flea and tick preventive medication, and to develop the habit of brushing your pet after outings, paying extra attention to check common hiding areas where ticks are found such as the armpits, groin, ears, and under collars.
Being aware of the environments that ticks are expected to be in, as well as knowing what to look for following a tick bite, can greatly reduce your chances of picking up Lyme disease.