Keep on the lookout for ticks

tickAs small as they are, ticks can pack a punch with some powerful diseases. Summer is going strong and with the warm weather comes the proliferation of bugs, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks.

You’ve heard of Lyme disease and, perhaps, of erlichiosis. Did you know that there are many other tick-borne illnesses? These little bugs can seriously harm your health.

Powasson (POW) is the latest tick-borne concern. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. There is no specific treatment, but people with severe POW virus illnesses often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain. In rare cases, it may be fatal.

For many of the tick-borne illnesses, symptoms vary. Many people feel fine, some people develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, or fatigue. There is not always a distinct bulls-eye rash like in most cases of Lyme disease. If you have been bitten by a tick or come down with flu-like symptoms, be sure to let your health care provider know right away. According to the CDC, “Untreated Lyme disease during pregnancy may lead to infection of the placenta and possible stillbirth. Thankfully, no serious effects on the fetus have been found in cases where the mother receives appropriate antibiotic treatment for her Lyme disease. In general, treatment for pregnant women with Lyme disease is similar to that of non-pregnant adults, although certain antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are not used because they can affect fetal development.”

The good news is there’s no need to lock your family indoors until it snows again. There are steps you can take, products you can use to help protect you and your kids while romping in the yard.

Cover up with socks and shoes and long pants. The insect repellant DEET (diethyltoluamide) is among the most effective at keeping insects, such as mosquitoes and ticks, from biting. Preventing insect bites is important during pregnancy because mosquito- and tick-borne infections, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease, erlichiosis and babesiosis may be harmful in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend any special precautions for pregnant women using DEET-containing products, when used as directed on the product label. A pregnant woman can minimize her need for DEET by staying indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.

Remember, ticks are tiny, so check yourself and your children carefully when you come indoors. If you’re thinking of using pesticides around your property, be sure to read our information, including safety precautions.