Protect yourself from the diseases ticks carry

Summer’s here, at least unofficially. When you head for the hills this season, protect yourself from ticks and insects. It’s easy to do, and it’ll save you a lot of anguish.

Ticks aren’t just creepy little crawling arachnids. They also carry some really bad diseases. The big three are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and tularemia.

All three come with fever, headache, fatigue, chills, aches, and nausea, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease cause rashes. People I know who have had these diseases say it’s like having the worst case of the flu they’ve ever had, multiplied by 10. They said it got so bad, they thought they were going to die. And if it’s not treated, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease will kill you. It’s not something you want to ignore.

Tularemia isn’t usually as deadly, but with the rabbit populations as high as they are, there’s probably a good bit of it floating around in the outdoors.

Fixing the problems these diseases bring with them isn’t exactly simple, but it can be done with today’s medicines. However, some people have lasting effects for the rest of their lives.

To avoid that, do what you can to prevent being bitten by ticks. Tuck your pant legs into your socks. You might look like a goober, but it’ll keep the ticks out of your undershorts. Wear long-sleeved shirts with tight cuffs, and keep a hat on.

If you wear light-colored clothes, you can see ticks easier when they get on you. That way, you can flick ‘em off before they make it to your skin.

Use an insect repellent made from DEET, and spray it on your hat and the cuffs of your pant legs. You can also spray a little on your shirt or jacket, but try not to get it on your skin.

And check yourself for ticks regularly. If you find one dug in, grab it with a pair of tweezers and pull it straight out. Don’t twist it, because you’ll probably just pull its back half off, and the head will still be buried in your skin. Don’t squish it until you get it completely out.

If you’ve been nailed by a tick, don’t panic. Just pay attention to your body. If you start feeling queasy, achy, sore, or tired, head for the nearest emergency room.

But your best bet is prevention. Keep the ticks at bay this summer.

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