May 1, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
Phone: (973) 972-3000
Avoid Becoming a Statis-Tick: Take Outdoor Precautions To Avoid
NEWARK—Enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and fishing are fun in the spring and summer, as are cookouts and gardening. But if you want to increase your enjoyment of these outdoor events in warm weather, then decrease your risk of contracting Lyme disease by avoiding risky behaviors where infectious ticks may lurk, warns an immunologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
The warm weather we are experiencing means you may encounter more of the tiny insects whose bites can trigger Lyme disease. Tick habitats are not confined to forests; they have acclimated to suburban life and frequently live in grass, shrubs and trees and backyards. They tend to sit on leaves, blades of grass and low-lying shrubs and attach themselves to passing people or animals.
Dr. Steven E. Schutzer, an immunologist and Lyme disease expert at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark, offers these tips to avoid ticks:
Keep your yard clean by keeping the grass cut short, trimming bushes and shrubs, clearing leaf litter, and tidying up wood piles.
· Wear long pants whenever possible, particularly if you are hiking, camping, fishing or just hanging out in a back yard. Tuck your pants into your socks and shirts into pants. Refrain from sitting or lying down in the grass.
· Wear light-colored clothing to make tick identification and removal easier.
· Make a tick check after outdoor activities, looking for a freckle that moves on your skin. Use a washcloth when showering to knock off ticks that have not yet attached to the skin.
· Ticks that have attached to the skin may be removed with fine tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible, and have the bite site examined by a physician.
· Never try to remove a tick by covering it with kerosene or Vaseline, or destroy it with a match or lit cigarette.
· If you notice a rash the size of a quarter that grows, consult your physician immediately.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick bite and often is characterized by an expanding round, red lesion with a bulls eye appearance and clear center. The disease, which is treatable with antibiotics, can affect the skin, joints, nervous system and heart. It is most prevalent in the Northeast. In addition, there are other infectious diseases, such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis, which can be spread by the same tick bite.
If you would like to arrange an interview with Dr. Schutzer, call Tom Capezzuto at (973) 972-7273.