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Published: Summer, 2003; Vol 5, Num 2

 

Lyme Disease: Hazard in Northern Regions

Personal Protection
Against Ticks

  • Wear light-colored clothing (to more easily see ticks)

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, tuck pant legs into socks or boots (to delay ticks from reaching skin so they will be found before attaching

  • Wear high boots or closed shoes covering entire foot

  • Wear a hat

  • Use a DEET insect repellant (no more than 33%) on non-facial skin (for children 2 - 12 use 10% DEET; do not use on children less than two)

  • To kill ticks, use pemethrins on clothes (kills ticks) especially around openings; apply once a month, they do not wash out every time

  • Shower and wash/dry clothes at high temperature after outdoor exposure

  • Do a careful, daily body check for ticks, remove them promptly with tweezers and clean skin with antiseptic

Construction workers in New England, New York, New Jersey, the upper Great Lakes, the Northwest and through much of Canada should check themselves carefully for ticks during the late spring and early summer peak season for Lyme disease.

The disease is caused by a bacterium carried in the gut of certain ticks. The ticks attach to the human body (often in hairy areas) and slowly feed, transmitting the bacterium within 36 - 48 hours to their human host.

Most people who contract the disease develop a "bulls-eye" rash, but a large number do not have a rash. Other symptoms are non-specific and similar to flu (fever, lymph node swelling, neck stiffness, fatigue, headaches, migrating joint aches or muscle aches).

Lyme disease can and should be treated with antibiotics. If not treated properly, it may result in chronic, severe and disabling conditions such as arthritis, muscle pain, heart disease or brain and nerve disorders.

For more information on Lyme disease go to: NIOSH.

[Steve Clark]