No, not the movie kind. The vampires I am talking about are the hard-to-see little bloodsuckers that can give you Lyme disease: ticks.
Ticks, especially the tiny nymphs, can attach to any part of your body. Once they do, they generally take 36-48 hours to feed on your blood, and then they can leave you with a parting gift… a red, expanding, target-like rash.
The rash won’t hurt or itch, but it can come with fatigue, chills, fever, and body aches – the initial symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is usually treatable with excellent success if caught early enough, using antibiotics. If not treated early, Lyme disease can progress to a point that it can make your life absolutely miserable, with headaches, rashes, arthritis, and even swelling of your brain and spinal cord.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, or have been in areas where ticks are common, and have an unexplained fever or rash, see your health care provider. Immediately!
Don’t let the threat of ticks keep you from enjoying the outdoors, though. Just remember to be vigilant at the same time. Here are some tips direct from the Centers for Disease Control, and me:
- Symptoms of Lyme disease begin 3-30 days after a tick bite. The average is 7 days.
- 70 to 80 percent of people who get Lyme disease develop a rash, called an erythema migrans.
- The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can sometimes cause other diseases, too.
- In our area (the Northeast) the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick) transmits the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin, for protection that lasts several hours.
- Check daily for ticks. They are tiny – no bigger than a poppy seed – and it’s the even smaller nymphs that are most likely to get you.
- Take a shower soon after coming in from outdoors.
- Carefully examine gear, pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
- Call your doctor right away if you get a fever or rash.
I invite you to read through my previous posts about ticks - they have additional relevant information:
Don’t forget… We have what you need for precaution, prevention and removal of the threats that vampire ticks send your way, at Medicine World.