Enjoying a hike through the forest is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the splendor of nature, but there are dangers lurking along the trails. Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, is the most common tick-borne infection in North America. The disease, which is quite serious and can cause a range of symptoms that affect the skin, joints, and nervous systems. The bacteria are transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged tick.
The primary host of ticks are small rodents like mice, small mammals like squirrels and raccoons, deer, and birds. Predominantly between April and September, tick season is in full bloom just as everyone is enjoying the great outdoors, but there are ways to help you reduce your risk of getting a tick-borne disease. Here are six ways to avoid summer tick bites while hiking…
1. Educate Yourself
Before you venture out on the trails, know what to look for, where to expect ticks and how to avoid them. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, especially near wooded and grassy areas. Hiking through leaf litter, shrubs, tall grassy meadows, and forests can increase your chances of a tick bite.
You may not even know you’ve been bitten, until you notice a small, red rash appear. Over the next few days, the tell-tale red, bulls-eye pattern, with a red outer ring surrounded by a clear area becomes apparent. Flu-like symptoms follow—fever, chills, body aches, headache, and fatigue. If you suspect you have been bitten by a tick, a trip to the doctor is imperative as soon as possible. Treatment for Lyme disease is most effective when started early.