An expected record number of ticks in the Northeastern U.S. this year will put many outdoor athletes at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Infected ticks can transmit the disease when they bite you. The early stages of Lyme disease appear as flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, muscle aches, and joint pain. You may also see an expanding circular rash around the bite area. Left alone, Lyme disease can cause problems with the heart, brain, and nervous system. Treatments are available, but prevention is a better way to go. Use these tips to keep your summer workouts free of ticks, and the long-term consequences of Lyme disease:
- Tuck your shirt into your belt, and your pants into your socks or boots.
- Wear light-colored clothing so you can easily spot ticks that have hitched a ride. Younger ticks—about the size of a poppy seed—are harder to spot, but are just as likely to transmit Lyme disease.
- Walk in the middle of trails to avoid picking up ticks from grass and bushes. Ticks tend to hang out in wooded and nearby grassy areas.
- Apply tick repellents with DEET or permethrin to your clothing and boots. These are effective, but can cause side effects when used frequently on the skin.
- Check yourself, friends, family, and pets for ticks during and after your trip.
- Wash your clothing, and shower with soap and shampoo when you return home.
- Contact your doctor with any concerns about a rash or flu-like symptoms following your trip.