NEW YORK (PIX11) — As temperatures heat up, so does the urge to explore the outdoors. But before venturing out, health experts say there is a growing concern for tick-borne diseases.
Ticks are commonly found in tall grass and wooded areas and can be carried by animals. Sandra Lee, CEO of New Jersey Labs, says a tick bite could lead to illnesses like Lyme disease, which can be detrimental to your health.
Symptoms can easily be confused with COVID-19 and can result in other lifelong health issues including chronic fatigue, joint pain and weakness, arthritis and a compromised immune system.
According to the CDC, fewer cases of tick bites were reported by state health departments during the pandemic. However, 50,865 cases of the tick-borne disease were reported to the CDC in the U.S. in 2019. That’s why health experts say prevention is key.
Lee advises people have a test kit on hand, especially during tick season from April through October. She says Lyme disease is a year-long problem, but most people are infected during the height of tick season.
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium-temperature water will not kill ticks.
Also, examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and daypacks.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it’s a good opportunity to do a tick check.
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full-body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body.
If Lyme disease is identified early enough, it can be successfully treated under a doctor’s supervision.