Small game, black bear, deer, turkey. In South Carolina, almost any time of the year there’s a hunting season. Your gear, boots, hat and needed paraphernalia are ready to go.
Even if you are not into hunting, the weather calls us all outside most of the year. Whether hunter or just enjoying the outdoors, here’s some tips on avoiding tick- or mosquito-borne illnesses.
Generally, the well-known tick-born Lyme Disease is most prevalent in the northeast part of the country and relatively rare in South Carolina (only about 40 cases a year in SC, compared to more than 7,000 a year in New York state) However, ticks spread other diseases to be concerned about.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is related to Lyme Disease, causes a red spotted rash, fevers, muscle aches and, in some cases, can be deadly. The incidence is much higher in South Carolina than Lyme Disease.
Both diseases are treatable with antibiotics, although in the worst cases, it may require IV antibiotics. In any case, both tick-born illnesses can be irritating and uncomfortable. So, prevention is less troublesome.
Whether hunting or simply going for a walk in the woods, prevent tick bites by tucking your pants legs into your socks. Physicians also recommend applying a DEET-based insect repellant spray on clothes and skin. Generally, 40% works well. Insect repellant has the additional benefit of warding off mosquitoes that deliver everything from an itchy bite to a whole range of dangerous diseases. In contrast to a mosquito bite, tick-bite victims rarely feel the insect’s presence at first.
Permethrin can be sprayed on pants, boots and socks. More than just a simple insect repellant, Permethrin actually kills ticks, mosquitos, spiders, chiggers, and more than 55 kinds of insects. Avoid spraying Permethrin directly on the skin, because it may cause a rash.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
The earlier these illnesses are treated; the less problems people have in the long run. After being outdoors, shower to wash off any un-embedded ticks. It is also a good opportunity to do a full body tick check. If you can, look all over every part of your body. Pay particular attention to soft hidden parts of the body including the scalp, back of the knees, navel and groin.
If you can find and remove the ticks before they have been embedded for 24 hours you can avoid most of the issues with tick diseases. If you have difficulty or the tick has been on the skin for more than 24 hours, see your doctor.
Sources include: McLeod Health, Lyme Disease Association, SC Department of Natural Resources, US EPA