Ticks carry a variety of very debilitating diseases. They can carry Lyme Disease, Babesia, Erlichia, Bartonella and many other diseases that can make people and animals sick. Although you may be careful when you hike or are out in “tick country”, your dog, cat, horse or other animals you are affectionate with may bring ticks into your home or they may transfer from your animal to you. If you get bit by the tick, you are at risk of developing a painful, chronic illness.
You may be wondering why I decided to write about ticks and tick diseases this month. Well, May is Lyme Disease Awareness month and I have Chronic Lyme Disease. There were times in my life that I was bed ridden due to the disease. I am not sure when I was bitten, as I have never removed a tick from my body and I have never had the “bullseye rash” (which less than 50% of Lyme Disease patients actually get). Because I hiked, camped, rode horses, worked in zoos and lived an outdoor life, I could have been bitten at any time, but because I also have always had pets, I could have gotten the tick from a pet too.
If your pets wander or play in tall grasses or brush, make sure you check them for ticks before they come back to the house. There are also many new products that will repel ticks and prevent them from biting your pet. One of the biggest pieces that is missing on finding a cure for this disease is lack of awareness. Many people have not heard of these diseases or the problems they cause. Preventing the bite is the best way to prevent this disease from spreading.
This does not mean you cannot enjoy hiking, camping and spending time outdoors with your pets, just be careful and aware of any hitch-hiking ticks that you or they may bring home.