Outdoor activities can be fraught with possible dangers if approached with a cavalier attitude, and avoiding Lyme Disease in the wild is certainly a component of outdoor living that merits attention. Lyme Disease was virtually unknown in the United States until the mid 1970’s, but it currently affects a major portion of the country, especially in the Northeast region. Spread by the common Deer Tick, Lyme Disease leaves those infected suffering symptoms ranging from flu-like symptoms to severe instances involving heart problems and Lyme Disease associated arthritis. Avoiding Lyme Disease in the wild can be accomplished with the application of common sense and a small bit of knowledge on how and where an individual can most likely be infected during an outdoor excursion.
Lyme Disease in the wild can be avoided to a large extent by steering clear of habitat that is attractive to the Deer Tick. This includes heavy brush and vegetation, heavily shaded locations and small pools of standing water. When hiking, an individual should be cautious to walk in the center of established trails to avoid brushing against weeds or foraging into brush. In camp it is imperative to clear an area of vegetation around where tents are placed and where camp functions are performed, such as food preparation or socializing. Clothing should always be shaken out prior to dressing, and clothes and shoes brushed off prior to entering a tent.
How an individual dresses and the clothes they select plays a vital role in avoiding Lyme Disease in the wild. Outdoors clothing should be light-colored, and while it should be comfortable it should not be over-sized or baggy. Long pants and a long-sleeved shirt should always be worn when near prime Deer Tick habitat, along with a hat, socks and hiking boots. An insect repellent containing Deet should be used when outdoors, and clothing should be checked at frequent intervals for the presence of insects. It is important to remember to check pets as well when outdoors, as they can get sick from the bite of a Deer Tick as well as humans.
If a tick bite is detected it is of the utmost importance to remove it quickly. Using a pair of tweezers, gently grasp the tick close to the skin and pull without twisting to prevent the tick from breaking apart, and follow up by applying an antiseptic to the bite. If possible, save the tick in a piece of plastic so that it can be examined by health care professionals for the presence of Lyme Disease. The quicker Lyme Disease is detected the faster a course of antibiotics can be utilized to prevent the impact of the disease to an individual.