Everyone should be ready to take precautions against Lyme disease this summer

Disease_ Center for Disease Control and Prevention
By Brian Sousa, Opinions & Editorials Editor

Most of us got blasted by a snow storm last week during our much-needed break, so many of us may not be thinking ahead to the warmer months just yet.

Unfortunately, we have yet another thing to be careful about this summer, especially for those of us who live in New England. Lyme disease is expected to increase this year, according to NPR and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

So, some may be wondering how scientists can figure out that there will be in increase in the number of Lyme disease cases, and it’s quite interesting.

It turns out that there are two scientists in upstate New York who can accurately predict the amount of Lyme disease cases by comparing mouse and rat populations in the state.

Apparently, The Hudson River Valley “experienced a mouse plague during the summer of 2016,” according to NPR. The two scientists who live there can count the number of mice and other rodents the year before they predict for Lyme disease. So essentially, because there were so many rats in New York last year, we can expect that the number of deer ticks infected with Lyme disease to increase for this year, 2017.

NPR also explains that “mice are highly efficient transmitters of Lyme. They infect up to 95 percent of ticks that feed on them. Mice are responsible for infecting the majority of ticks carrying Lyme in the Northeast. […] An individual mouse might have 50, 60, even 100 ticks covering its ears and face.”

Those details are disgusting by themselves, but the real implications of this are even worse. Lyme disease is not fun.

If you end up contracting the disease, you can be extremely ill for several weeks, and will most likely be treated with multiple antibiotics to rid your body of the bacteria that causes it.

During this whole ordeal, your body feels absolutely awful, with extreme flu-like symptoms usually present. If left untreated, the disease can cause irreversible brain damage.

Thankfully, there are several ways to help take precautions against getting Lyme. When going to forest and woods areas, it’s important to carry several types of bug spray. I’m a huge fan of going on nature adventures with my friends, and the last thing any of us want is a tick on us.

Wearing pants and long-sleeved clothing can also prevent ticks from attaching to your body, which is obvious. However, on hot summer days, no one is going to want to wear long clothing.

If you are normal and wear t-shirts and shorts when it’s hot out, I’d recommend applying a thick coat of all-natural bug spray at least once an hour while you’re camping or exploring outdoors in deep-forested areas. Better yet, if you’re in a group, take turns checking each other’s back, neck, and legs for any hidden ticks – you could save someone a hospital trip.

Also, it’s important to note that removing a tick that is attached to you is critical.

Apparently, it takes some time for the tick to transfer the disease when it’s on you, so removing it with tweezers or your fingers is necessary if one ever gets on you.
Be safe out there and remember the bug spray!

Photo Courtesy: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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