Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

Ticked off?

Email News Alerts

Taking a walk in the woods? Watch for those ticks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Lyme disease is on the rise.

Advertisement
Advertisement

But, don't just check yourself, check your four-legged friends as well. Dogs are 100 times more likely to be bitten by diseased ticks.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent and treat Lyme disease for humans and animals.

"If you are able to check every day (for ticks), the possibilities are very low," Karen Bergeron, RN, MeritCare, said of humans contracting the disease.

There are two kinds of ticks in the area -- wood ticks and deer ticks. Deer ticks are the ones to watch out for.

Deer ticks are very small with a reddish color to them. Bergeron said they grow from the size of a poppy seed to sesame seed. These are the guys carrying the disease.

Wood ticks are bigger, ranging from the size of a sesame seed at birth to the size of an eraser tip. They are brown and white in color.

"They (wood ticks) don't transmit Lyme disease at this time," Bergeron said, "unless there is some kind of mutation."

While MeritCare hasn't seen any cases of Lyme disease yet this year, people are coming in to be treated for rashes resembling the unwanted redness.

"(There are) lots in with irritated bites at the site of attachment," she said.

A typical characteristic of an infected tick area is the "bull's-eye" rash. There are varying degrees of redness with white circular rings around the area where the tick was attached. If infected, people can feel fever, fatigue, "fluish type of feelings," Bergeron said. But try not to confuse the symptoms with influenza symptoms, either.

Typically, it takes five to seven days before symptoms begin to show themselves, but it could take up to 30 days.

"You always have to think in the back of your head, I did have that little tick," Bergeron said.

"Sometimes people have no symptoms are all, so that's hard," she added.

If the tick hasn't become engorged with blood or embedded itself, there likely hasn't been enough time to transfer the disease. That's why prevention is the best medicine.

Bergeron said covering and protecting skin with clothing or skin repellents is key. Read the labels, because some sprays are more child-friendly than others.

She said if a tick isn't on a person for 24 hours, chances are very low of getting any infection, so it's important to check every day.

If someone should find a rash around the area where a tick was, visit a doctor. Physicians can prescribe antibiotics that will clear the disease from the body and clear up rashes. If the disease isn't caught in time and advances, antibiotics may not be enough.

"Early treatment and preventative treatment are best," she said. "It is a concern in humans because of the long-term effects if it's not caught early."

Problems can surface in the nervous system, muscles and heart, and Lyme disease can cause meningitis, nerve palsy and joint and muscle pain. Rare cases can cause heart infection.

"Mainly, people complain of aching bones and muscles," Bergeron said.

Think about the long-term effects and "keep the connection that there is a possibility there," Bergeron said.

Also be educated on the disease. For more information, check out www.cdc.gov, and click on disease and conditions and insect-related diseases.

Symptoms and prevention is much the same with animals.

Dr. Jim McCormack, veterinarian at Detroit Lakes Animal Hospital, said there isn't one specific symptom to look for in pets, dogs especially.

"Classic symptoms are fever and inflammation," he said. "Or if the white blood count is elevated or suppressed."

He said ticks can live up to two years, transferring disease from one animal or person to another. Lyme disease isn't the disease to look for either.

But on the flip side, not all ticks carry disease.

Joint problems, kidney infection and weight loss are problems infected animals can have if gone untreated.

The best prevention?

"Staying out of the area of these ticks," he said.

Mowing lawns where dogs or cats stay closer to the house is best. If animals are out in the long grass, more preventatives like tick repellents are available. McCormack said Frontline Plus is the most effective tick repellent he works with.

If a disease is caught, 95 percent of the time, they can be treated with antibiotics, he said.

"You have to individualize to each lifestyle," he said on how to help prevent Lyme disease for your pets.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement