Memorial Day weekend was damp and cool but the last few days have brought warm humid temperatures to the Fox Valley area.
The warm weather gets us out of our winter hibernation and outside for fresh air and exercise. A walk in the park is in order for man’s best friend too. Before you put on the walking shoes and grab the leash, heed the new health warning from the CDC and the Cook County Health Department.
Lurking at our favorite parks and recreation spots is a tiny unseen danger. That walk in the park may have unintended consequences as you bring these tiny threats home with you.
From May through July, people get tick bites and tick borne diseases more often than any other time of year in the United States, but many may not know they are at risk.
Ticks are found in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush. Heavily traveled trails up and down the Fox River Valley are prime breeding ground for ticks.
You can protect yourself by avoiding wooded areas or trails that contain tall grasses but ticks may also be hiding in the unmowed grasses at your the local park and the paths where you walk your dog.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommends reducing exposure to ticks as the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections but that isn’t always easy.
If you still want to enjoy the scenic Fox Valley with Fido, the CDC offers the following recommendations to keep you and your pet healthy against ticks.
CDC recommends people:
Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Parents should apply repellent to children; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with up to 30 percent DEET for kids. Always follow product instructions.
Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tickborne diseases, and may also bring ticks into your home. Tick collars, sprays,
shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks.
Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks.
If you find a tick, on yourself, others or pets, remove it promptly. The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with fine-point tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk the tick. Wash the bite area and your hands thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
Within two weeks following a tick bite, if you experience a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye or a rash anywhere on your body, or an unexplained illness accompanied by fever following, call your doctor. The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses can include fever, chills, aches and pains, and rash.
Early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications.
For more information visit www.cdc.gov or www.cookcountypublichealth.org