Lyme disease is a bacterium that is often carried by mice and other small rodents. The disease can be transmitted to humans if they are bitten by a tick that has previously fed off an infected animal.
Symptoms of Lyme disease typically develop within two weeks of a tick bite and can include fevers, chills, swollen lymph nodes, neck stiffness, fatigue, headaches, and joint or muscle aches. Lyme disease can also cause arthritis, muscle pain, heart disease, and brain and nerve disorders if left untreated.
To protect yourself, you should consider taking the following actions:
• Wear light-coloured clothing so that ticks are more visible.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pants into boots to make it more difficult for ticks to reach the skin.
• Wear closed-toed shoes or boots when working in grassy or wooded areas.
• Use tick and bug repellent containing DEET.
• Shower well, and wash and dry clothing at high temperatures after performing outdoor work.
• Perform a tick check after outdoor work is completed. It’s especially important to inspect behind the knees, between fingers and toes, armpits, behind ears, on the neck and in any hairy areas, as these are favourite hiding spots for ticks.
Removing a Tick
To prevent an infection, it’s important to remove a tick within 36 hours of being bitten. You can remove ticks safely by following these steps:
1. Remove clothing items to get a good view of the tick and the bite area. Avoid touching the tick with bare hands.
2. Sterilize a tweezers using rubbing alcohol.
3. Use the tweezers to clasp the tick as close to its mouth as possible.
4. Lift the tick carefully and do not twist or jerk the tweezers. Doing so can detach the tick’s body from the bite point, leaving the tick’s head behind. You will want to remove the tick fully to limit your chances of contracting Lyme disease.
5. Place the tick into a container with a lid and close it. Note the time and date. The tick can then be sent to a doctor for testing. This step is useful if you get sick, as the tick can be used to determine if you have Lyme disease.
6. Clean your tweezers again with rubbing alcohol and clean up the bite area, making sure to pick out any remaining tick body parts and clean the bite area with antibacterial soap.
Under no circumstances should you burn or freeze a tick. These are not effective methods for tick removal and can even increase your chances of infection.
If you suspect that you may have contracted Lyme disease, seek medical attention. A simple blood test can confirm whether you have the disease. If you test positive, a medical professional will prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection.