Winter has finally passed. We are all looking forward to spending time enjoying the sunshine and warm weather activities. Unfortunately, the warm weather has awakened the tick and mosquitoe populations.
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by the bite of an infected deer tick. For most people that contract Lyme Disease, they will find evidence of a rash at the tick bite site. It is important for you to note that there are exceptions. You could be infected with the bacteria and not have the bulls eye rash. If you experience symptoms of a fever and general body aches anywhere from three to thirty days after being exposed to ticks, contact your health care provider. A blood test will be conducted to determine if you have contracted Lyme Disease, the most common tick borne illness, or one of the rarer tick borne illnesses.
A word of caution from the Maine Bureau of Health: There is much misinformation concerning the prevention and treatment of Lyme Disease. For your safety, we are encouraging you to log onto the Center of Disease Control website or the State of Maine Bureau of Health site. You will obtain the most current and reliable information.
If you should find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers. Please do not try to light it with a match or use household chemicals on it. You will burn yourself. Remember a deer tick is the size of a pencil point.
Precautions to take when you are outdoors: Wear long sleeved shirts and pants. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and loosely tuck your shirt into your pants.Ticks have a harder time reaching your skin if they have to work around the folds of your clothing. Wear a hat.
If you use repellants, follow the directions carefully.Do not apply over cuts,or a rash. Do not apply the repellants directly on your face. You do not need to apply them on your skin that will be covered by clothing. NEVER allow children to apply repellants onto themselves. It is wiser to use a a lower dose more frequently than to expose yourself to a high chemical dose.
Since most of us will not want to wear long pants and shirts on a hot August day, the most important step that you can take is to closely examine yourself and loved ones after being outdoors. Do not assume that since there are no deer sightings in your area that there are no ticks. Mice, chipmonks and domestic animals carry the ticks that have fallen off of the deer. All ticks carry the potential of exposing us to infection. Remove them immediately. Wash the affected area with soap and water. Observe the site for redness, increase heat and swelling over the next few weeks. Contact your health care provider if you have any concerns.
It is important to reduce mosquito breeding grounds around your home. Mosquitos love standing water. Empty your birdbath every few days, drain the kiddy pool when not in use, remove unused tires and flower pots, rid the yard of tall grass areas. Do a standing water yard check weekly. If you would like more information on environmentally friendly methods to reduce your exposure to mosquitos contact the Kennebunkport Public Health Office at 967-4401 and ask for one of our informational packets.
Mosquitos are most active at dawn and sunset. Try to reduce the amount of time you are outdoors during this time frame. When outdoors we encourage the use of repellants. It is wiser to use a lower dose of repellant frequently than to expose yourself or loved ones to high doses. We encourage you to wash the repellant off as soon as one can when coming indoors. Do not apply directly on your face. NEVER allow children to apply the repellant onto themselves. There are a huge number of repellants on the market. Everyone needs to find the one that works best for them.
For the most current information on tick and mosquito borne illnesses contact the Maine Center for Disease Control at (207)287-8016, or Maine.gov
REMEMBER: The Kennebunkport Public Health Department is here to help you. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 967-4401. We provide services seven days a week. Any message left on our answering machine after 4 PM will be returned the following morning.