You’ve heard of long-covid, but have you heard of long-term debilitating Lyme disease? The medical community broadly accepts that every year, there is a sample of patients in which treatment fails, and those patients are saddled with long-term symptoms of infection. The most common way something like Lyme disease is contracted is by being bitten by a wood tick. Read on to find out what diseases from wood ticks are out there, how you can keep yourself safe, and what to do if you do end up getting bitten.
Can you get Lyme disease from wood ticks?
Lyme disease is primarily transmitted by tick bites and is unfortunately pretty widespread in the northern hemisphere. If you are an outdoorsy person, be aware of the possibility of getting bitten by a tick.
Lyme disease can seriously ruin your quality of life if it remains untreated, and unfortunately, because people remain undereducated about the connection between ticks and the disease, many cases go unnoticed.
The disease is classed as a multi-system illness, meaning it can affect different groups of organs. It is spread by the bacteria of the genus Borrelia, borne by ticks in the woods. The long-term symptoms include pain and cognitive dysfunction.
After you get bitten by a tick, the symptoms of the disease may start to show up to one or two weeks after. Patients have described it as feeling like a “weird flu”, accompanied by aches and pains as well as general malaise and fatigue. As you may know, with bacterial infections, timely treatment with antibiotics is critical to prevent the bacteria from spreading to other critical areas of the body.
It Won’t Kill You But it Will Take Your Life
This is what they say about a disease like Lyme disease; it won’t kill you, but it will take your life. This is because untreated symptoms often become chronic, and the disease is hard to completely eliminate from the body.
This is why timely treatment is critical and people who frequent the outdoors need to understand the connection between ticks and Lyme disease.
Lyme disease that lasts post-treatment is known as post-treatment Lyme disease, or PTLD. Its prevalence in the United States is high and continues to increase. We know that during flu season, your symptoms could be anything from Covid to the flu, to the common cold, but if you have been bitten by a tick and are feeling unwell, do not rule out Lyme disease.
Diseases from Wood Ticks
Sadly, Lyme disease is not the only thing ticks potentially carry. Wood tick diseases range from bacterially to virally caused. Ticks can even carry parasites.
Lyme disease is the primary danger from ticks, but there are other tick-borne illnesses that you should watch out for. These may include:
- Powassan Encephalitis
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness
- Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
- Colorado Tick Fever
Ticks are active from April to October, and their activity peaks in the summer months. Their activity also varies depending on geographic region and climate conditions. They are found throughout most of North America.
If you are working in the outdoors, be extra careful not to expose skin during these times. Wear long, thick socks, and long-sleeved pants and shirts. You can also look into bug spray that repels ticks and mosquitos, such as OFF! Deep Woods.
How to Recognize Ticks
Ticks have the scientific name of xodes scapulari.
Ticks are generally 1/16 to 1/8 inches wide and are shaped like a teardrop. Their coloring is generally orange-brown to blend in with the environment, with a head that is darker brown in color.
You should know that ticks are most active after the rain because they need a warm and damp environment to molt. Ticks are parasites that live off mammalian hosts, and rainy days are their preferred time to seek a new host. If it is raining, you should be wearing long-sleeved clothing and using bug spray since mosquitos are also known to be active in this weather.
Because ticks prefer moist areas, they tend to be found near bodies of water and along the coast. However, that does not mean the wilderness near you is tick-free. Consult a regional specialist if you are concerned about ticks.
You will want to avoid tall grass during a tick’s active season (they are more common in the grass than in trees) and to take special care in protecting your ankles and legs. Tucking in long, thick socks is a great way to keep your skin bite-free.
It is rumored that grapefruit oil repels ticks, so you could look into this as a natural option for prevention.
Both ticks and mosquitos are attracted to lighter clothing, so if you want to lessen your chances of a bite, consider avoiding light-and-beige tones.
Deer ticks are the species that spread Lyme disease. They are very small parasites and can stay attached to the hosts’ body for up to three days at a time.
Because they prefer warm and moist environments, you’ll want to check the places on your body that ticks would want to hide in after you’ve been in tall grass. Check your groin, armpits, knees, ankles, and hairline.
Ticks do not transmit Lyme disease instantly; typically, onset is at least 6 to 36 hours after the bite. You’ll want to have a buddy check you for ticks as they are very small and hard to detect. The earlier one is detected, the easier the bite can be treated and the tick properly removed.
Removal is a little difficult. Use fine tweezers to grasp the tick and pull upwards; do not pull too hard or fast or you could risk leaving the head of the tick inside the wound.
After extraction, you should wash the area with warm and soapy water and then closely monitor the site for signs of infection. Check for red, inflamed lumps. Feel the temperature of the site.
Awareness is Key
Ticks are insidious and annoying, but diseases from wood ticks can be prevented with awareness and proactive prevention. Know the lifespan and active feeding patterns of ticks, and dress appropriately.
If you’ve been bitten by one, act with haste and get medical attention. The effects of long-term Lyme disease are debilitating and hard to manage.
If you suspect you could have ticks around your home, especially if you live near the wilderness or a body of water, you will want to contact pest control immediately.