After years of devoted time in the woods, the only fear that ever crossed my mind was either stepping on a snake, running into a big ugly spider, or becoming enemies with poison ivy. Anything else, didn't faze me. That was until what I'd like to call "the haunting," when I spent a day with my boyfriend Brandon and his friends, setting up tree stands for the next season in Hammond, LA and Woodville, MS.
All day long, I had black ants crawling all around me, which didn't bother me. Now mind you, I'd rather them be elsewhere, but thought of them crawling on my back didn't bother me so much. That was up until I got home and realized that something was crawling in my pants. Thinking that it was an ant didn't worry me so much, but it was sort've annoying so I decided to get changed into some fresher clothes. To my surprise, my jeans came off, and my blood pressure rose! Was that a baby spider exploring around my delicate region?!
I hurried up and tried to kill this nasty, red, spider looking thing but it wouldn't budge. I tried everything in the book...even body slamming it...nothing worked. I was HAUNT! I "calmly" let out a little yell for Brandon to come see what was crawling on my body, and as he was coming to help, he yells "don't take it off of you, it might be a tick!! You can get Lyme Disease if you take it off!!!" UMMM....A WHAT?!!!!!!!!!!
After he looked at the two bugs that I "impatiently" pulled off of myself, he was positive that it was a tick. He then told me to bend over and that he'd have to "examine my butt for ticks." Wow, that was a sentence I never thought I'd hear, and an experience I'll never forget! We'll put this one in the "bad experience" book, although it is still a good experience in a way bc I will now be more cautious. Sad part is, now I'll be looking for ticks instead of snakes...
Lyme Disease: An Outdoor Threat
Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States. It is a bacterial (Borrelia burgdorferi) infection that is spread to humans by the bite of certain types of infected ticks. Most infections occur in the late spring and summer when ticks are most active and human activity outdoors is the greatest. Where you live or go on vacation can put you at risk for contact with infected ticks. The Northeast, North Central and Northwest areas of the United States have heavily wooded areas where ticks are most prevalent and exposure to infected ticks is more likely. However, there are also infected ticks in the Southeast.
Ticks will attach themselves anywhere including the thighs, groin, trunk, armpits and behind the ears. If you are infected, the rash may be found in one of these areas.
Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms, such as joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue can occur, but they may seem too mild to require medical attention. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff aching neck, and tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur.
The most severe symptoms of Lyme disease may not appear until weeks, months or years after the tick bite. These can include severe headaches, painful arthritis, swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.
The majority of Lyme disease infections occur from the bite of the immature (nymph) black-legged (deer) tick. Before they begin to feed, nymphs are the size of a poppy seed with a translucent (semi-transparent) body and a darker head. After they feed, the body swells and appears darker and round, about the size of a mustard seed.Adult black-legged ticks are about the size of a sesame seed before they feed; females have a black head and dark red belly. After they feed, they expand to look like a gray sunflower seed kernel.
Black-legged ticks are active all year round, whenever the temperature is above 35 degree F. The peak activity for nymphs is May-June, while adults are most active during October-November.