Commentary: Spring Lyme in New York
With the end of one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent years upon us, New Yorkers are going to be anxious to burrow out of their homes to frolic in the beautiful spring flora. Hopefully, they will do so while still heeding the many warnings that have surfaced over the past months. Warnings such as the admission by the CDC that approximately 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease (LD) are contracted in the U.S. each year as well as the numerous studies confirming that other biting insects can and do transmit LD. Regardless, following a few common sense guidelines should dramatically reduce the probability of contracting an infection.
- · When trekking outdoors, use ample insect repellent and favor non grassy and drier walking paths that are less conducive for ticks;
- · Tuck your pants into your socks to reduce skin exposure;
- · Flea and tick collars are a must for pets, and remember to brush your pet thoroughly before letting them track bugs into your home;
- · If you receive any type of insect bite, immediately clean the bitten area with a hand sanitizer or alcohol;
- · Perform occasional tick checks and wear light clothing so that spotting ticks is substantially easier;
- · If you find an attached tick, remove it immediately with tweezers, grabbing as close to the tick’s head as possible and pulling gently so that the tick’s head and/or legs do not remain embedded in the skin. Again, clean the bitten area with alcohol. Also, consider taking a dose of prophylactic short term antibiotics to kill any residual bacteria. Alternatively, you can eat plenty of garlicky foods which is a natural antibiotic;
- · When returning home, put your clothes directly into the DRYER for 20+ minutes. Extreme heat will kill any remaining insects on your cloths. Subsequently, take a hot shower;
- · In the days and weeks to follow, if you experience any light lightheadedness, tingling in your fingers or toes, arthritic pains that move around your body over time, vision problems, or the tell-tale bulls-eye rash, see a physician immediately and firmly request a 3-week course of doxycycline. Bacterial diseases are much less of a threat if caught and treated early.
A tick in time, saves Lyme,