Move Over, COVID: Tick Diseases Running Rampant in NJ
Now that the weather is getting nice, New Jersey residents are spending more time outside. But they’re being warned to be on the lookout for a potential danger that is so small it might not even be noticed.
According to Pat Smith, the president of the Lyme Disease Association in Wall, ticks are out in force across the Garden State right now.
She said besides Lyme disease, which is carried by the deer tick, the American dog and Lone Star ticks also cause problems.
She said a newly discovered tick that lives on bats, appropriately called the bat tick, is being studied to see how much of threat it poses to humans.
Symptoms of tick-related illnesses
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common symptoms of tick-related illnesses include fever, chill, headache fatigue and muscle aches, and sometimes these conditions can last for months or even years.
Smith pointed out many tick infections have symptoms that are similar to COVID, so if you get a coronavirus test and it’s negative, “you definitely have to continue if you’re symptomatic in some way to be checked for Lyme or other tick borne diseases.”
How to check for ticks
Smith said ticks can quickly wind up getting under your clothing, so it's important to conduct a "tick check" on clothing and in the folds and creases of your body as well as the hairline of children.
“I just pulled a very tiny one that I almost couldn’t see from my neck last week,” said Smith.
Smith said according to the most recent CDC data (from 2018) about 57,000 cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in New Jersey every year, and we have the second highest total of any state in the nation behind Pennsylvania.
The proper way to remove a tick
She said if you discover a tick on your body you should remove it “by not squeezing it, by not twisting it, by not putting anything on it or burning it, but grabbing it with pointed tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out.”
Once the removal of the tick is complete she recommends putting antiseptic on the area and contacting your physician.
She noted many tick borne diseases can be effectively treated with antibiotics, but early treatment can be key, and sometimes symptoms may last for extended periods of time.