May Is Lyme Awareness Month. Most of you are tired of the current pandemic, and want nothing more than to go outside and enjoy our beautiful springtime weather.
However, I want to remind you of another endemic, inflammatory disease that is lurking outside your door: Lyme disease.
Caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, also known as the Ixodes Tick or deer tick, Lyme disease is a real threat.
Ticks are brought by deer and rodents as well as migratory birds. They can be found on your pet, your favourite dog walk, bike ride and even in your backyard.
They can also be found in leaf litter, wood piles, stone walls, tall grass and bushy areas. It is important to be aware and to educate yourself with the dangers that ticks carry.
April to September is when this pest is in it’s peak season, and based on their life cycle, ticks can range in size from 1 mm to 5 mm and can be very hard to spot.
In their nymph stage, a tick is no bigger than a poppy seed. It’s because of this fact that most people never remember being bitten by one. After their blood meal, if left undetected, these small creatures simply fall off.
In 30% of cases a rash will appear, although the classic bull’s eye rash appears in only 9% of reported cases. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, sore throat, stiff neck, and congestion can follow. However, there are over 100 different symptoms associated with Lyme disease and several co-infections such as Anaplasmosis, Babesia and Bartonella, just to name a few. For this reason and due to flawed testing, Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose and treat.
Most trained Lyme-literate doctors will go on clinical presentation instead of test results.
Lyme disease is called the “Great Imitator”.
It is known for Antigenic Shifting and can evade the immune system, cloaking itself and hiding in deep tissues, which is another reason testing isn’t always effective. It takes awhile for antibodies to develop, so early tests often miss the mark.
Caught in the early stages, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics and eradicated from the system. If not, treatment options vary from person to person based on symptoms and duration of the disease.
You can protect yourself and your pets from Lyme disease by spraying your clothing with Deet, Promethium and even certain essential oils and treating your pets with flea and tick medications.
When you go on bike rides or walks in wooded areas tuck your pants into your socks and wear light coloured clothing so ticks are more easily spotted. Do tick checks daily after all outdoor activities. If you find an embedded tick on you then simply get a pair of tweezers, go as close to your skin as possible, gently grab the tick and pull straight out, don’t twist. You can test your tick by sending it away to geneticks.ca.
For more accurate information on Lyme disease and prevention you can check out Jim Wilson’s site canlyme.com. Being outside and exploring the great outdoors is why we all live in this beautiful corridor. Enjoying our surroundings doesn’t have to be scary. Education and prevention is the key! Be safe everyone.
Brandy Wilmot is a local business owner.