Northern Nevada has never been known to have many ticks. Most of us in the Reno/Tahoe region aren’t familiar with seeing them or pulling them off of our animals, but this year is different. As you know, we had the wettest winter in a very long time, which has brought an increased amount of ticks into our region. Many people are speaking up about this and I am thrilled we are trying to be more proactive. I’ve had numerous conversations, messages from friends and have read posting on social media about the considerable increase in ticks. I even received an email from a service I use that takes my dogs out on adventures to be aware that our dogs are may be coming home with ticks and to check them out.
With my history and everything I’ve gone through with Lyme disease, this can be extra alarming, but I don’t want everyone to panic. Ticks are disgusting creatures, but not all of them carry Lyme disease and not everyone who gets bit by a tick is going to get sick. However I do think being educated and knowing what to look for is important.
When you go outside, make sure to protect yourself. There are a lot of different theories out there about what would be the best repellant for ticks. I really like to use essential oils, specifically rose geranium after reading this woman’s testimony on her blog. Her story gave me peace of mind, but research for yourself and see what you are most comfortable with. Some people praise deet products and others are not a fan of the chemicals, so I encourage you to do your own research and protect yourself.
After enjoying the outdoors, but before you return inside, take a lint roller brush and roll it over your whole body. This will pull off any critters that were along for the ride on your clothing. Many times ticks will take a little while before they find where they want to bury inside of you and by removing them you can prevent a bite. Also, it’s always recommended to check for ticks once you return inside, especially on areas that are warm like your groin, armpits, and head.
If you do see a tick buried in you, use the q-tip method or tick twister to remove it. These methods bring the whole tick out of your body in a calm way, preventing backwashed blood to go back inside of you along with other bacteria, parasites or virus. For this reason, I do not recommend using essential oils or smoke to pull the tick out. These methods are reported to be more traumatic to the tick potentially causing more harm to your body.
If you are really nervous about the tick, you can send it to a lab and have it tested for $50. This lab guarantees your results will be returned to you within 3 business days, which gives you plenty of time to treat if the tick comes back with something concerning. This data will also help to map our area as prevalent for certain pathogens in ticks so we can help our community to be more aware.
Lyme can be controversial and our doctors in northern Nevada are not used to seeing it. I’ve been told hundreds of times that “we don’t have Lyme here”, but any people with Lyme disease live here and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. If you start to get flu like symptoms or see strange rashes, not only a bullseye rash, I urge you to go to your doctor. Your doctor may not be aware that the Bay Area has a very dense population of ticks who carry Lyme disease and other concerning pathogens. It is my assumption that the ticks we are finding in our area migrated from there.
Don’t panic and don’t avoid going outdoors because these new critters are here now. Live your life, but be a little more cautious and prepared. Early diagnosis and treatment is key for tick borne diseases before it turns into something more serious.
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