Ticks & Lyme Disease

What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi.

How is Lyme disease spread?
The bacteria are spread by the bite of infected Ixodes scapularis (black-legged) ticks. These ticks are also commonly known as deer ticks. When in its nymphal stage, the tick is about the size of a poppy seed or the period at the end of this sentence. Not all deer ticks are infected.

Who gets Lyme disease?
Anyone can get Lyme disease; however, it is more prevalent in children < 10 years old.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?
Early Lyme disease symptoms include an expanding red rash that may appear around the area of the tick bite. The rash can resemble a bull’s eye with a clearing center and distinct ring around it. Other early symptoms may include flu-like symptoms: fatigue, headache, fever, and achy muscles and joints. Later symptoms may include arthritis, neurologic problems, and heart problems.

How soon do symptoms appear?
The early symptoms of Lyme disease usually occur within the first month after the tick bite. Later symptoms can occur several weeks to several months later.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is easily treated when detected in the early stages. Treatment with oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, taken for a few weeks are often effective. Intravenous antibiotic treatment may be necessary for patients with late symptoms of Lyme disease.

How can Lyme disease be prevented?
To prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections, the best protection is to avoid contact with ticks. When working or playing outside in areas that ticks inhabit (tall grass and weeds, woods, and leaf litter) you should:
• Wear light colored clothing (to spot the ticks easily), long sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Create a “tick barrier” by tucking pants into socks and shirt into pants.
• Consider using insect repellent, according to manufacturer’s instructions, when planning to be outdoors.
• Check clothing and skin very carefully after being outdoors in tick infested areas.
• Remove any ticks as soon as possible after they are discovered.
• Keep your lawn mowed, cut overgrown brush, and clear any leaf litter away from the home.
• Use a wood chip barrier between any wooded area and the yard.
• Inspect pets daily and remove any ticks found.

How should a tick be removed?
• It is important that a tick is removed as soon as it is discovered using tweezers. Grasp the tick mouth parts as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick out with steady pressure. Do not yank the tick out. Do not crush the ticks body with the tweezers as it may contain infectious fluids.
• Do not use petroleum jelly, hot matches, nail polish remover, or any other substance to remove a tick. By using these substances, you may actually increase your chance of infection.
• Thoroughly wash the area of the bite with soap and water and put an antiseptic on it.
• The sooner the tick is removed, the lesser the risk of tick-borne infection. Research has found that infected ticks need to feed for 24-36 hours before transmission occurs.
• Write on the calendar the date you removed the tick and the part of the body it was removed from. Check this area daily for 30 days.

 

Ice & Snow, Take it Slow

• Don’t take shortcuts
• Take your time
• Wipe feet when entering buildings
• Wear proper footwear (including Ice Cleats)
• Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor

Protect Your Paws: Breaking in New Boots

Anyone who has ever worn a brand new pair of boots for an extended period of time knows the importance of breaking them in. Failure to properly break in boots can result in painful blisters and can also shorten the life of your boots. Fortunately, though, it's very easy to prepare your boots for years of comfortable wear. It takes a little bit of time to break them in properly, but it is time well-spent.

• Put on the boots with the socks you will typically wear with them. Lace the boots tightly and walk around the house in them for ten minutes to check the fit. If they pinch your feet or feel uncomfortable, return them for a better fit.
• Put the boots on and walk around in them for an hour to begin breaking them in. Once the hour is over, take them off even if you are not uncomfortable.
• Wear the boots for an hour at a time over the next few days. Incorporate different activities that you will be doing in your boots, like walking up and down hills and climbing. You can do this during work as well but be sure to alternate between your new boots and your old pair.
• Increase the amount of time you wear them gradually. When they are comfortable to wear during a short walk or for several hours, you have successfully broken them in.

Tips:
• For leather boots, you can rub a bar of soap on the leather parts on the inside of the boots to soften the areas and prepare them for the breaking-in process. (Note that you will not be able to return the boots after completing this step.)
• If you wear the boots for too long during the first few days, you may get blisters or have sore skin on some areas of your feet. In the subsequent days, you can continue breaking in the boots comfortably by covering the blisters or tender spots with bandages or Moleskin (available in the foot care section of any pharmacy or grocery store.)

Preventing Slip & Fall Injuries

With the piercing cold of winter, the chances of weather related slip and fall injuries are very high. Since we all want to stay busy during these cold months, and doing so requires many of us to be working outside in constantly changing areas and worksites, we have to remain aware of any added dangers.

A few things we can all do to minimize the risks associated with slips and falls are:

• Constantly evaluate our work sites and work areas for potential hazards. Know where the icy spots are, and any dangers that are not immediately visible due to snow cover.
• Bring up any hazards we notice to our coworkers, and attempt to mitigate them.
• Come to work prepared with proper footwear.
• When we notice icy work areas, let’s treat them with sand or rock salt to improve traction and prevent slips.
• Wear protective sunglasses to reduce glare so we can see the potential hazards.
• React to any changes in traction, and avoid areas where the danger of slipping is imminent.

Many of these precautions may seem like commonsense, but distractions can quickly diminish our abilities to evaluate our environments. This is why constant awareness and alertness are the keys for us to avoid both common and unforeseen hazards. Let’s stay safe out there!