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Beautiful weather brings tick danger

"Go outside and play!" Sound familiar?

I grew up in a time and place where the accepted norm was to spend every possible moment out-of-doors. My mother gently objected to my lounging on the couch for hours, absorbing books by the stackful, whenever it was sunny and warm outside. But since I grew up in SoCal, it was ALWAYS sunny and warm. I did ruin my eyesight, so she was probably right about that. And although I read voraciously in the summer (and every other time of the year), I still managed to make it outside to swim and hike with friends pretty much every day as a kid.

So when spring comes tumbling in, bringing beautiful outdoorsy weather, should you still be sending your kids outside to play? Have things changed now that you are aware of the dangers of Lyme? Now that you know you and your loved ones are only one tick-bite away from it?

This spring, reports are already piling up in regional news, warning that this is likely to be a heavy tick season. The ticks are early and plentiful.

One suggestion for preventing Lyme is to advise your kids not to sit on the ground. Now, how realistic is that? For kids, part of the allure of playing outside is the opportunity to investigate the bugs and other critters crawling on the ground. And when you're little, how else can you eat your snacks, play tic-tac-toe in the dirt, examine the fluttering moth you just caught in your hands, if not sitting on the ground? And what about toddlers who are still getting their sea-legs, and end up sitting more than walking?

One thing that really bugs me is when I read, over and over in various articles, that ticks must be embedded for 24 hours or so in order to infect the person they bite. While that may be a comfort to read, there is no scientific evidence to support it. Prevention is the very best medicine, not wishful thinking.

Aside from prevention, early detection is still the most important thing when it comes to having been exposed to ticks. Bear in mind, tick bites don't hurt. This is because the tick injects a sort of anaesthetic with the bite that will numb the area, so you won't feel it. Perform regular tick checks on yourself and your kids, especially after time spent playing outside. Take the time to be careful and diligent. Remove ticks before they have a chance to get embedded.

And please tell everybody you know that tick checks are vitally important.
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