DEET you say ticks? | News, Sports, Jobs

Graphic from the Pennsylvania Department of Health
Deer ticks transmit diseases to humans.

How to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases this season? Dr. Jennifer Vodzak, an infectious disease specialist at Danville Medical Center, offers suggestions to help us stay safe and aware while enjoying the outdoors.

Dr. Vodzak is a graduate of Drexel University of Medicine in Philadelphia and completed her residency and training in pediatric infectious diseases at Saint Christophers Hospital for Children, also in Philadelphia. Dr. Vodzak joined Geisinger Medical in 2017.

Dr. Vodzak said, “The blacklegged tick, sometimes known as the deer tick, is the one that carries the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.” The bacteria that infected ticks carry is Borrelia burgdorferi and is commonly seen in the northeastern United States.

It’s hard to avoid ticks in central Pennsylvania, but Dr. Vodzak has a few safety strategies to protect yourself.

“There are a few things people can think of. There are several different versions of ticks in our area of ​​the country. The “deer tick” is very common, and it is the one that carries the bacteria that transmits Lyme disease. » says Dr. Vodzak.

She added, “There’s also the ‘dog tick’ and the ‘groundhog tick’ as well as a variety of others that can be there. They don’t fly and they really don’t jump. They’re crawlers.

“When you think about what you’re going to do outside, you want to think about how exposed you might be to a situation where a small insect or tick might be crawling on you,” says Dr. Vodzak.

Tall grass, fields, weedy and wooded areas or, especially, brush are the places where you can most often come into contact with ticks. If you’re walking on an open path with lots of foot traffic, you probably won’t come into contact with a tick.

However, your chances are much higher if you find yourself walking through brush or a field where you see things hitting you directly.

Dr. Vodzak said, “When we think of children, they like to play outside a lot and tend to find small areas to crawl in. This can increase their risk of them coming into contact with a tick, and then the tick can crawl on them.”

Dr. Vodzak suggests people think about how much exposed skin they can comfortably cover outdoors.

This line of thinking can become more difficult as the weather gets warmer. Still, wearing light, long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors when you know you might be in areas with higher contact possibilities throughout the day can reduce your risk of exposure to a tick.

Dr. Vodzak also suggests tucking your pant legs into your socks in the previously mentioned situations. This method can prevent ticks from crawling on your skin if one were to get on your clothes.

After a day outdoors, Dr. Vodzak suggests that you carefully examine the areas of your person where ticks may be hiding. The hairline is a common area where people find ticks.

Waistbands and other areas where clothes fit snugly against your skin are also good places for ticks to hide.

Showering and bathing is a good idea as it can knock off ticks that have not yet attached themselves and can be a great time to smell a tick attached to you while you are bathing.

Dr. Vodzak thinks people should use insect repellents and arachnids with caution because they are chemicals, but they can be very helpful in protecting against ticks as long as people adhere to the following instructions.

When choosing a product to repel ticks, it is essential to research the predominant chemical used. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website has a repellent database and a repellent awareness chart that may be a source for you to identify chemical properties and guide your decision-making on which product is right for your application.

Popular chemicals used in tick repellents that you may be familiar with are DEET, picaridin, and permethrin.

Dr. Vodzak said, “DEET and picaridin can be used directly on exposed skin to help keep mosquitoes and ticks away. We recommend that 10-30% DEET is enough to protect you. There are products that have higher concentrations of DEET, but have not been shown to provide higher levels of protection.

Picaridin is a chemical very similar to DEET that people commonly use as a substitute if they don’t respond well to using DEET.

Permethrin is not intended for direct skin contact, but individuals can use the chemical on clothing or equipment for outdoor activities.

Permethrin products should be sprayed on clothing or equipment and allowed to dry before skin contact. This chemical can stay on clothes for several wash cycles.

Those who use the chemical should use it on items worn recurrently for outdoor activities in areas with possible contact with ticks.

Dr. Vodzak said, “Studies have shown that lemon eucalyptus oil has been shown to have similar efficacy to 10% DEET in repelling ticks” for those who want to choose a non-chemical and more natural alternative.

The CDC’s website provides pictures and information on identifying ticks, symptoms and signs of tick bites, and the different diseases that ticks carry in your area.

The site also provides information on removing a tick if you have one attached to you. The CDC recognizes that there are currently 16 different pathogens carried and transmitted by ticks.

Dr. Vodzak said, “It is important for you to identify which ticks carry which diseases in your area. For example, while I was practicing in Kansas City, we saw more Rocky Mountain spotted fever than here in Pennsylvania, where we have more Lyme detection.

The Powassan virus, which has a detection rate of 1% in deer ticks, has no treatment available and there is currently minimal testing capacity.

Powassan causes an infection known as encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can lead to headaches, mental confusion and even seizures.

Dr. Vodzak said, “It’s a worrying virus, but when we monitor the tick population, Powassan is found in very low numbers.”

“To provide contrast, 50% of all blacklegged ticks carry Lyme.” Dr. Vodzak said, “So Powassan is not an alarming thing that people should be worried about, but it is something that we are monitoring.”

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