May is Tick-borne Disease Awareness Month
Montgomery Twp., NJ — A growing number of Montgomery Twp. Residents are falling ill with diseases spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease and anaplasmosis. These tick-borne diseases are preventable if you take action to stay safe while enjoying the outdoors now, and in the warmer months ahead.
In New Jersey, the most commonly infected tick is the deer tick (or black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis). “After a mild winter, tick populations are surging and that could mean a bad year for Lyme Disease. During the spring, ticks are active and looking to feed on people or pets. The trouble is, these ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, so we all need to be aware of the risks and take action to protect ourselves.” said Stephanie Carey, Health Officer for Montgomery Twp. Health Department.
Anyone who is bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria can become infected. People who spend a lot of time outdoors in tick-infested areas from April through October are at greatest risk. Proper removal of a tick from the skin within 48 hours of being bitten can reduce the risk of infection.
The Health Department encourages residents to follow these three simple steps to avoid tick-borne diseases:
REPEL – Before you go outside, apply an EPA-registered insect repellent (such as DEET). Treat your clothes with permethrin. Wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and long pants, and tuck your pants into your socks. Inspect yourself regularly when outside to catch any ticks before they attach.
INSPECT – Do daily tick checks on yourself, your children and pets. Check yourself from head to toe.
REMOVE – Remove ticks promptly. Showering within two hours of coming indoors is also effective to wash ticks off the skin.
If you were bitten by a tick – watch for early signs of disease during the weeks following the bite. The first sign of Lyme disease is often an expanding red rash at the site of the tick bite. The rash usually appears seven to 14 days after the tick bite, but sometimes it takes up to 30 days to appear. Not everyone gets the rash, so be on the lookout for additional symptoms of early Lyme disease: fatigue, headache, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain. Early signs of anaplasmosis are fever, muscle pain and malaise. Both diseases can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is given early.
For health news, alerts and information – visit www.health.montgomery.nj.us or call (908) 359-8211.