Simple measures key to combating tick-borne illness
• Lyme disease symptoms include an expanding rash, headache, fatigue, muscle aches. Symptoms may be severe, including facial palsy, heart beat problems and joint swelling to such an extreme it leads to arthritis. The disease is treated with antibiotics and while people do develop antibodies, they may be reinfected with a new tick bite.
• Anaplasmosis can be severe, even deadly. The state health department reports about 30 percent of the 720 anaplasmosis cases in 2010 resulted in hospitalization. One patient died.
• Powassan virus is somewhat related to the West Nile virus in the way it invades the central nervous system with a rapid onset of headaches, high fever, stiff neck and disorientation. It acts on the body in a way that is similar to encephalitis or meningitis. In June of 2011, Minnesota recorded its first death from a tick-borne Powassan virus.
• With the exception Powassan, the department of health reports all other of the state’s tick-borne diseases are treatable with antibiotics.
Removing a tick
• Recommendations are to remove a tick slowly and steadily. Ticks have barbed mouth parts. If part of the tick remains in the skin it is usually those mouth bits, but they will work themselves out eventually and won’t cause additional disease exposure. The bite site should be cleaned and monitored as it provides an exposure for a secondary infection.
• People can have more than one tick-borne disease at the same time. Once an embedded tick is found, it is important to remove it promptly as length of time increases chances for infection in the human host. An attached deer tick typically needs to be feeding 12 to 24 hours to infect the host. A tick carrying Lyme disease usually has to be attached one to two days.
• Wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot; pull socks up over pant legs to keep ticks from easy access to skin; avoid grassy, wooded or brushy areas or stay on the center of trails to avoid tick contact; keep lawns short and create a barrier of wood chips or rocks between the yard and the woods; and check for ticks after leaving tick habitat.
• Repellents with Permethrin, especially, and 30 percent Deet are recommended. Permethrin, available at sporting goods stores, is a pesticide and not meant to be sprayed on the skin. It is designed to be sprayed on clothing and lasts through numerous washings.