and the modern outdoor experience

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Tick exposure is a part of our eastern USA modern outdoor experience. Along with skyrocketing deer populations come the skyrocketing tick populations.

We know that we will be exposed to ticks and take appropriate precautions. The true eastern hiking 'season' is during the cold months. One of the multiple reasons is tick avoidance.

The larger ticks are easier to spot and remove. Assuming you find them before they are thoroughly entrenched, there is no special removal technique needed, just pick 'em off. Some lay very flat against the skin but you can lift the tail end to get a hold of these guys. While still in the woods, we just toss the removed ones. When at home, we flush removed ticks down the toilet to absolutely remove them from the house. The smaller ones, fortunately, exhibit the behavior of 'moving' when disturbed (the bigger ones usually just sit tight). This is used to great advantage by quickly showering when we get back home. Be sure to wash thoroughly under the shower spray to wash away any that let go to relocate. Before showering, give the body a through and complete inspection for ticks and remove any that are found.

Ticks usually take a few hours before finding a suitable spot and digging in. Out of maybe 50 that are uneventfully removed, one will assume he found 'fast food' and will bite in less time. They typically like 'tighter' places like under a belt. Each body is different but to me, a tick bite itches more than a mosquito bite. On my body, mosquito bites are gone the following day but tick bites endure about 2 weeks. It is said that to transfer Lyme disease, a tick must be attached at least 12 hours.

Some people are into avoidance, wearing light color clothes, tucking pants into socks, insect repellent, etc. Personally, I just pick 'em off. I get to wear clothes that are functional and comfortable and I don't douse myself with chemicals. (Modern medicine administration using 'patches' provides insight into the ramifications of slathering on insect repellant and other exposure to chemicals!) Others stay out of the woods. Most cases of Lyme disease are 'caught' in back yards and a very small percentage is acquired in the woods.

A large part of the devastation caused in the past by Lyme disease was because of the difficulty in diagnosing Lyme and unfamiliarity with the disease. In the east, medical practitioners are now usually prepared for cases of Lyme, especially in patients that spend time outdoors. It is YOUR responsibility to advise your doctor that outdoor activities and tick exposure are part of your life style. This should be included in your medical history.

Automobiles are very dangeruos and probably take more American lives than any other disease/event. I however still drive. I am aware that there is a risk factor in the activity and drive prudently. Likewise, ticks and Lyme present a hazard. Like driving, I do not abstain, rather, I continue with my activities and I am aware of the hazards and take appropriate precautions.

To me, the rewards of being outdoors, in nature, outweight the risk of exposure to the hazards of the activity.

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