We are all thinking about COVID-19. But the weather is warming up and the ticks are getting more active. It is time to start warding off ticks. University of Maine testing last year showed that 40% of deer ticks carried Lyme disease. Ticks can carry other diseases, too.

Wear long pants and either tuck them into your socks or close them at the cuff with a rubber band.
Spray your shoes, socks and pants (and maybe your coat) with permethrin. It repels ticks and mosquitoes. Once it dries it has no odor. Once sprayed on your clothes it will last through about six washings. There is one thing to be careful of. While permethrin is still wet it is dangerous to cats. Once it dries there is no problem.

When you come back inside, check yourself for ticks, especially in places where skin touches skin. Showering probably helps. If you find an attached tick remove it carefully. Try not to squeeze the body. If you think it may have been attached for over a day or two, you should contact your health care provider. They may choose to give you a one-time dose of doxycycline to reduce your chance of getting Lyme disease. If you think you are developing symptoms, it is time to call.

The target rash is considered proof that you have Lyme disease. This is not the ring of redness that appears within a day at the site of the bite. The target rash is a big red circle with a pale center. It can appear anywhere on your body three to 30 days after the bite. Pain in one joint, flu-like symptoms, or a mild rash can also be signs of Lyme.

Remember that prevention is the best thing you can do.

Roy Miller, M.D.    

Somerville


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