Red Bluff, California
Red Bluff Family Doctors

Protect Yourself From Ticks And Lyme Disease

Protect Yourself From Ticks And Lyme Disease

Reminder – Protect Yourself and Your Family from Ticks and Lyme Disease This Summer

One of the benefits of living in Tehama and neighboring counties is our proximity to a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, rafting, biking, running, horseback riding and more. While getting out and being active with friends and family is a good thing, it’s important to remember that there are hazards in the wild (and in our backyards) that we need to be aware of.

One such hazard is the western black legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) – a small crawling insect known to attach itself to animals and humans for the purpose of feeding by sucking the host’s blood. As if this weren’t bad enough, western black legged ticks are particularly dangerous because they can transmit Lyme disease.

Western black legged ticks have been found in 48 of our state’s 52 counties. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH):

[The western black legged tick] is common in the humid coastal areas and on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada range. Ticks prefer cool, moist areas and can be found on wild grasses and low vegetation in both urban and rural areas. Adult ticks climb to the tip of vegetation along trails and wait for a host to brush against them. Nymphs are found in low, moist vegetation such as leaf litter and on logs. Adults are most active from fall through early spring and the nymphs are active primarily in the spring and early summer months.

Ticks get Lyme disease bacteria from infected rodents that they feed on. They then spread it to humans by attaching and feeding on us. Both nymphs (generally the size of a poppy seed) and adults (generally the size of a sesame seed) can transmit the disease. Nymphs are potentially more hazardous given their size, and the difficulty in spotting them while on the human body.

Early symptoms of infection can appear within 1 – 30 days following a tick bite. CDPH describes Lyme disease symptoms and health problems as follows:

Protect Yourself From Ticks And Lyme Disease

Wearing light colored clothing can help keep ticks away.

Lyme disease can affect many body systems. Lyme disease can start as a mild flu-like illness and, over time, develop into severe chronic health problems. The early stages of the disease can include a red, expanding skin rash (called erythema migrans or EM), chills and fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain, weakness of some muscles in the face, and heart irregularities. The EM rash appears up to 30 days after the bite of an infected tick. One or more EM rashes can occur, not necessarily at the tick bite. The rash can precede, accompany, or follow flu-like symptoms. The rash may not be noticed in some instances due to skin tone or occurrence on the body in locations difficult to see. Occasionally, an allergic reaction to the tick bite can occur on the skin and may be mistaken for an EM. The allergic reaction is different from an EM rash because it happens within minutes to hours after the tick bite and does not spread. If left untreated, arthritis or nervous system signs can develop in some Lyme disease patients. Arthritis is most likely to appear as bouts of pain and swelling, usually in one or more large joints, especially the knees. Nervous system abnormalities can include numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms and legs, or difficulties in memory and the ability to concentrate. Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially in the early stages. The potential for long-term complications increases if the disease progresses untreated.

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the disease is keep ticks from attaching to your body in the first place. Experts suggest:

  • Avoiding tick-infested habitats
  • Wearing light colored clothing including a hat, a long sleeved shirt, and long pants tucked into tall socks or boots
  • Applying tick repellents to clothing and exposed skin
  • Checking yourself and your loved ones (including pets) for ticks while in tick habitat and up to three days after your return (ticks like to hide at the hair line, in your armpit, in your groin area, and behind your knees so don’t neglect those areas)

If you find a tick on your body, promptly remove it by grabbing it with tweezers and pulling it straight out, away from the skin. Wash the bite site with soap and water or antiseptic. If you develop symptoms, see your doctor right away and let him or her you were bitten by a tick (or suspect being bitten by a tick).

Contact Us

Lassen Medical Clinic, Red Bluff
2450 Sister Mary Columba Drive
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Phone: 530-527-0414

Lassen Medical Clinic, Cottonwood
20833 Long Branch Drive
Cottonwood, CA 96022
Phone: 530-347-3418

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