Any visitors to local parks need to be especially aware of the safety concerns that deer ticks pose to human health. Studies have shown that summer months pose the highest risk for tick bites and contracting diseases. The rates of disease have been increasing each year in the state of Maryland as well as across the country. It is important to put safety first and take preventative measures that will keep you and your family safe.
Here are some good practices that the Sierra Club, The National Capital Lyme & Tick-Borne Disease Association, and the US Department of Health and Human Services recommend for anyone visiting parks in the region.
- when outdoors, wear light-colored clothes so that ticks will be more noticeable
- wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, a hat, and close-toed shoes
- tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks
- use insect repellents, especially on exposed skin
- avoid brushing up against plants if possible
- after spending time outdoors, ticks may linger on clothing; make sure to send your clothes through the dryer to ensure ticks don't crawl on to home surfaces and bite anyone unexpectedly
- check your entire body for ticks and tick bites as soon as possible. Tick bites sometimes itch like a mosquito bite. They may appear to look like a mole and can be easily missed. Ticks range in size from the size of a period to several millimeters in size.
- Remove ticks with tweezers, grasping as close to the tick's mouthparts as possible. Do not attempt to use other methods as the tick may release its stomach contents and bacteria into your skin.
- Should you find a tick that you suspect has been attached for 24 hours or more call a doctor immediately. You should be prescribed 3-7 days of antibiotics as a preventive measure to avoid infection.
It is important to understand that Lyme Disease is not the only infection carried by ticks in the area. Other diseases that are known to be carried by ticks in Maryland include Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
There are several symptoms that people should be concerned about after visiting wooded areas that may expose them to ticks. If you experience any of the following warning symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible and get treatment:
- an unusual rash, called the "bulls-eye rash", around the area of a tick bite. This rash does not occur in all cases, so other symptoms are just as important to look out for.
- mild aches and pains
- mild flu-like symptoms
One good way to become more familiar with outdoors safety is through a local camp. Several are offered in our area, including a children's camp run by Bill Kaczor listed below:
For further Information, visit these websites:
- Tick-borne Diseases
- DEET, Showers, and Tick Checks Can Stop Ticks
- National Capital Lyme Disease Association
- Lyme Disease Prevention