If the record snow and cold this winter ‘tick’ed you off, we have more bad news for you. The freezing temperatures and constant snow didn’t put a dent in the population of ticks – or the diseases they carry.
In fact, as you’re starting to get out-and-about to enjoy the warmer weather, ticks are waking up too. And they’re hungry – very hungry – and eager to attach themselves to you or your pets.
Spread to humans via a bite from an infected tick, Lyme disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can masquerade as those of the flu or be hardly noticeable at all, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US.
Even celebrities aren’t immune to tick bites. Here are a few of the famous names that have been touched by Lyme disease:
- Avril Lavigne: The singer recently announced she was infected with Lyme after being bitten by a tick last spring. “It felt like having all your life sucked out of you,” the pop star said in her recent interview with People Magazine.
- George W. Bush: Many diagnosed with Lyme realize it after developing a rash in the shape of a bulls-eye — which is how former President George W. Bush realized he was infected in 2007.
- Alec Baldwin: The actor hasn’t been especially public about his having Lyme disease, but he did tell The New York Times in 2011 that he has had chronic Lyme disease: “At the same time of year, I get really tired.”
- Yolanda Foster: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012 and uses her fame to raise awareness for the illness. In a recent Instagram photo, she included a heartfelt caption to her followers: “I am going to find my way out of this maze and find a cure for not only myself but for all my fellow Lymies.”
Prevention of Lyme disease starts by reducing your exposure, follow these helpful tips on how to prevent contact with ticks:
- Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, behind the knees and on the scalp.
- Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter, and apply repellent before participating in outdoor activities.
- Check your pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible if you see one.
- Protect your pets by reaching out to your local veterinarian. They usually offer a variety of products for protecting animals from tick-borne diseases. Pets can carry ticks inside homes as they hide in their fur.
- Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
- Consult a professional to spray your yard perimeter to reduce tick populations.