In the words of Ray Barone’s TV dad, “Holy Crap!” After all these years of planning, saving, and yes, traveling, who would have thought we would be waylaid by something as small as the dot on this letter i?
Ticks! These are the demons of outdoors-loving people and their long-grass-leaping dogs.
Apparently, if you live anywhere in North America where there is water, you really have to look out for black-legged ticks, which are prime carriers of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is nasty. It can knock you on your back for a couple of years or for life, like Lupus or Fibromyalgia.
The ticks pick up the disease from sucking the blood of mice then, if they find a way onto your skin, the bacteria in their saliva gets into your bloodstream, and that’s where the illness starts.
It’s really a drag, when you are planning a trip to consider just how many places are now hotspots for tick infestation. It must be even worse to be a manager of a campsite or RV site in one of these areas. It can’t possibly be good for business.
This doesn’t mean we are stopping our travels. No way. There are lots of dangers out there in the wild. It’s matter of taking precautions. We went to a local outdoors/hiking equipment store to ask if they had any special clothing to ward off ticks, but the answer was, “just tuck your pants in your socks.” Sage advice, but probably not enough.
Here is what we have learned so far. We take this seriously, but as I said it is not going to stop us from traveling.
- Stay away from long grass. Ticks don’t fly, but they wait on the blades of long grass or branches of trees and drop onto a person or animal when they brush against the leaf.
- Tuck your pants inside your socks. Ticks like to climb up to warm, safe areas like the groin and armpits.
- Attach a pet flea & tick collar to each ankle. Don’t just put one collar around both ankles or you will fall over (ha ha).
- Wear light colored clothing. It’s not like ticks have fashion sense, but it’s easier to spot them on tan pants than on jeans.
- Use a brush or sticky roller to clean off your clothes before entering your rig after a walk.
- Shower regularly and inspect your skin everywhere.
- Make sure your pets have up-to-date shots.
Check the Map
It’s a good idea to check against an up-to-date Lyme disease map of the area you are planning to travel, published by the local Ministry or Department of Health to to see whether you are going to a hotspot, but even if not, it’s a good idea to take the same precautions.
What If You Get Bitten?
Contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite is not instantaneous. Usually – not always, but usually – you will see a red “bullseye” rash around the bite spot. It is essential to get prompt medical attention to receive an antibiotic treatment as soon as possible. That’s why it is so important to check your skin – especially groin and armpits every day.
So it’s not great news, but it’s another part of being out in the great outdoors, and it is certainly not exclusive to the RV/hiking community. It can exist pretty much anywhere.
It’s not going to stop us from exploring, but it’s probably a good idea to keep those pants tucked inside your socks.