Protect Against Lyme Disease and Ticks in Rhode Island

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It is absolutely no secret that ticks are prevalent in Rhode Island and in the Northeast. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, in 2022 there were 2,323 reported cases of Lyme disease, a jump from the previous year of 980 cases. As parents and caregivers we always try to check ourselves, little ones and pets for any signs of ticks. However, ticks aren’t always found; sometimes they may look like a speck of dirt.

Typical incubation period for Lyme symptoms is between 3-30 days and that usually comes with the typical “bullseye” rash. If left untreated Lyme symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle pain, achy joints, headache, neck stiffness and/or Bell’s palsy

tick safety
Credit: Ladislav Kubeš for iStock
Wait?! So someone can have Lyme even without the bullseye rash?!

Yup. I had no idea either until late July 2023. My toddler was diagnosed with Lyme disease that presents as Bell’s palsy shortly before his third birthday. Lyme was confirmed through a blood test and treatment began right away. A round Doxycycline or Ammoxicillin is among typical protocols for Lyme treatment.

Hold up! How did you know something was wrong? That’s a story for another day. In the meantime be proactive against ticks.

Protect yourself and loved ones
  • Treat your pets with flea and tick repellant
  • Treat clothing, shoes and gear with permethrin. Any product containing .5% permethrin is effective. Permethrin does need to be reapplied after several washings.
  • Insect repellents are a common staple for spring and summertime fun. Look for insect repellents that contain DEEP, picaridin, Oil of Eucalyptus. The EPA has a very helpful website that can help you find what insect repellant is right for your needs; this is linked below
  • if walking in a wooded area walk in the middle of paths
  • Wear long pants tucked into socks and long sleeved shirt tucked into pants. Wearing light color clothing will also help spot moving ticks.
What to do if you find a tick

If you happen to find a tick, step one is not to panic.

Use clean, fine tip tweezers or a TickKey and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull upwards while trying not to twist the tick around. Once the tick is removed, clean the bite area thoroughly and dispose of the tick. Some individuals tend to save the dead ticks for further testing if symptoms appear.

clipart style image showing the proper removal of a tick using a pair of tweezers

Image credit: CDC.gov

Data sources

epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you

ri.gov/press/view/45764

Lyme Disease Cause, Signs, and Treatment | Lifespan

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2024/infections-diseases/lyme-disease#:~:text=Clinical%20Presentation,within%2030%20days%20of%20exposure.

 

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Britney Ferguson
Brit was born and raised in Rhode Island and lives with her husband and 3-year-old son. From a young age, she has always been one to help out those who needed a bit more support. Professionally, she has been working with neurodivergent children since 2007 in various settings and is currently a Behavioral Tech Assistant in a therapeutic school. After a year of early intervention, speech visits, and lots of testing, her son was diagnosed with Lyme Disease that mimics Bell’s Palsy right before his third birthday. This diagnosis has opened up a whole new realm of learning and advocacy. She also advocates for safe sleep, car seat safety, and swim safety. Brit can often be found enjoying the sun, attending different activities with her family, or with the Rhode Island Highlanders Pipe Band; a local non-profit where she holds multiple roles. Like most adults, Brit functions off of caffeine and music and lives in hoodies and jeans. A motto she has always had in life is to ‘be a part of something bigger than herself’.

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