Do you live in the sort of humid, warm climate that is just incredibly appealing to those nasty little buggers, otherwise known as vectors? Here is a free piece of advice: protect yourself, because this summer, they are coming to get you. Specifically, you might want to watch out for Lyme disease (this is one tick that never quits). Now, if you have been hearing a lot about Lyme disease cropping up everywhere lately, you are probably wondering what the deal is. The answers are right here…
1. The Bad Guys
As one of the most common vector-borne diseases in the world, Lyme disease enjoys a pretty bad rep. But if you wanna know who is behind the scenes, we have two names for you – Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii. Quite a mouthful, plus these are the bacteria that actually cause Lyme disease.
2. The Henchmen
To do their dirty work, those bacteria use your standard black-legged ticks by infecting them. If lousy luck prevails and you come across infected ticks, they may find you pretty appealing and give you a bite to prove it—round two to the henchmen.
3. The Victims
As the victim, you can rest assured that at least the buck stops here. In other words, there is little to no possibility of you transmitting the infection to anyone else because person-to-person contact is not a feature of Lyme disease.
4. The Reason
Why exactly did this happen? Well, for those of you who thought climate change was a hoax, we have news for you. It is not (sorry, not sorry). The reason Lyme disease has been so annoyingly prevalent lately is all down to global warming. Now, ticks do not even have to plan a tropical paradise-themed vacation because staycations are all the rage. And global warming has ensured it provides the perfect warm humidity those ticks love. So, all you had to do was walk in a moist, humid, warm, shady, possibly green area (think parks, gardens, and woods), and you were already a goner.
5. The Results
When an infected tick bites you, you may feel the bite immediately, but you may not notice any symptoms for months! In some cases, all it takes is a week to four weeks. In some, it could be nearly three months before a rash appears, and you will have forgotten all about the bite by then. These sneaky guys really know how to play the long game. Here is what to watch out for: a red, pink, or purple skin rash (called erythema migrans), high temperature, headaches, tiredness, and muscle and joint pain.
The worst of it is that the symptoms can sometimes last a long, long time.
6. The Solution
If you get bitten, immediately grab a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick, pull it out, and dispose of it. Then clean the area, and you are all set. After that, you only need to worry if any symptoms develop. A 28-day course of antibiotics should set you right if symptoms do appear.
If you just want to avoid the hassle altogether, wear clothes that cover you completely, and douse yourself in diethyltoluamide (DEET) insect repellent spray when you go out.
Keep your eyes peeled, body covered, wits supercharged, and tweezers handy. The Lyme war has just begun, do not go down without a fight!