With the clouds and rain parting to make way for sun and warm temps, this unfortunately also means more exposures to insects and ticks, some of which can carry disease. Here are some helpful hints to minimize exposure:
• Wear protective clothing with long sleeves and pants that has permethrin built in
• Using DEET on your skin
• Checking yourself and your pet for ticks after going out in the woods
• If a tick is found and embedded, take tweezers and pull gently from the tick’s head directly outward. After a few seconds, it should let go. Clean the area with soap and water and look for signs of infection
• Avoiding dawn/dusk, as mosquitoes are most active during this time
• When a mosquito is on the skin, brush it off instead of slapping as the slap will make it more swollen and itchy
Luckily, there are low incidence of mosquito or tick-borne illness here in Oregon. There are only about 40 cases of Lyme disease reported to the Oregon Health Authority each year, and many of these are people returning from exposures on the East Coast. Only about 2-4% of ticks in Oregon carry the bacteria the causes Lyme disease. This, matched with the fact that a tick must be embedded for at least 36 hours to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, makes the risk overall quite low, although not impossible.
Seek medical attention if you notice a “bullseye” rash, redness or swelling in the area, headaches, body aches, fever, or malaise after tick bites or mosquito bites.