Lyme disease and the dangers of ticks are in the news more often than ever before. While some researchers say this is because the number of ticks has increased, others say it is actually because the medical community is getting better at diagnosing the disease.
Powassan, for example, is a virus transmitted from ticks to humans. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, seizures, memory loss, and vomiting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says Powassan can even lead to long-term neurological problems. According to the CDC, there have been 100 cases of Powassan in the past decade, and most have occurred in the northeast and Great Lakes regions.
In Which Environments Are Ticks Most Common?
Ticks lurk on plants, grasses, trees, and shrubs, waiting for the scent of carbon dioxide exhaled by passing animals. They are especially attracted to wooded areas and tall grass. Even your flower garden can be a haven for these potentially dangerous insects.
Many local communities have also witnessed an explosion in the deer population. That’s important to pay attention to because ticks are known to “hitchhike” on deer. Latching onto deer makes it easier and faster for them to get around, including into your backyard. Ticks can also be found in bird feathers and in the fur of other wild animals that pass through your yard.
How Can You Prevent Being Bitten by a Tick?
Here are a few ways you can avoid a tick bite:
- Check your clothing, body, and hair after coming indoors, especially if you’ve been in a wooded or grassy area.
- Wear long sleeves and long pants when you are outside.
- During peak tick season (April through September), avoid walking in or near wooded areas and places where you may brush up against shrubs and tall grass.
- Wear insect repellent and reapply according to the directions on the bottle or can.
- Shower and wash your hair immediately after coming indoors from working in the yard or garden.
It’s also important to know what symptoms might indicate you’ve been bitten by a tick.
Symptoms of Tick Bites
While most tick bites don’t lead to serious complications, it’s important to know the symptoms just in case. Here are the most common:
- Red spot
- Localized pain (not as common)
People who are allergic or more sensitive to tick bites might also experience the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Stiff neck
If you are in doubt about whether you’ve been bitten, call your primary care physician for advice. It’s better to be safe than to wait until a more serious tick-related illness develops.
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