You have been hearing it for weeks now; it’s tick season. But what does that mean? And how does COVID19 affect tick season? Will more people be susceptible to tick bites and possibly Lyme disease? Can ticks carry the Coronavirus?
These are all valid questions. We have the answers. First, let’s talk about tick season.
What is Tick Season?
Tick season refers to when a person or animal is most likely to be bitten and infected by a deer tick. The life cycle of deer ticks begins in the Fall, with their hatching. Late Spring and early Summer, therefore, are more dangerous.
These times of the year are more dangerous because, after winter, new ticks turn into nymphs. During the nymph stage, ticks are larger and more likely to come into contact with larger animals and humans.
Tick season lasts through three of our four seasons. Even in winter, they do not die, and they become dormant. This is why it’s crucial to learn all you can about the prevention and treatment of Lyme disease.
What Diseases are Carried by Ticks?
All ticks can carry bacteria that cause infections that lead to diseases. Many diseases are associated with regions of the Earth. For example, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was once localized to the Rocky Mountains. However, with an increase in travel, people are carrying ticks to different regions around the world.
To date, there is no evidence that ticks can contract or carry the Coronavirus. This does not mean COVID19 does not play a role in people getting Lyme disease, however.
Some researchers are worried that COVID19 will cause a rise in the number of people who contract Lyme disease this year.
What Determines the Number of Ticks with Lyme Disease?
According to reports, the number of ticks we see during tick season is determined by the number of white-footed mice. When deer ticks are in their infancy stage, they attach to rodents like the white-footed mouse.
If you have a lower number of these rodents in the Fall, we will have a smaller number of Lyme infected ticks the following Spring.
Last year in 2019, the number of white-footed mice was below average. This should mean we will have a lower number of Lyme disease diagnoses in 2020. But we had an unexpected occurrence that could change that theory: COVID19.
COVID19 and the Rise of Lyme Disease
We likely won’t know the full effect the Coronavirus will have on the number of Lyme disease diagnoses until later in the year. But many medical professionals are expecting the amount to be higher, and not for the reason you may think.
The main reason we can expect an increase in Lyme diagnoses is the number of people spending time outdoors. In a “normal” year, people are indoors, whether at work or home, during the daytime. With COVID19 lockdowns and quarantines, people have felt confined, and when allowed to go outside even in their backyards, they take it.
Therefore, because more people are spending time outside, and because ticks live in grasses everywhere, Lyme disease numbers could rise.
Don’t Fear the Outdoors
Do not let the fear of a tick keep you inside your home. The outdoors are meant for enjoyment, and you need the fresh air and exercise you can get from being outside.
Instead, take preventative methods to avoid getting Lyme disease.
Ticks live on the ground. They don’t fall out of trees like many assume. They live on the tips of grass blades, especially in brush areas. Prevention of Lyme includes protecting your feet, ankles, and legs from coming in direct contact with a tick.
Wear boots, jeans, and repellant when you know you will be in the woods or high grass areas. As soon as you go back inside, check your whole body for ticks. Also, check your animals for ticks since they can move from pets to humans.
Wear light-colored clothing when outdoors. It makes it easier to see ticks. In addition, take a shower within two hours of being outdoors, if possible. If you go hiking, walk-in areas on the pathway that are worn or have less grass.
Caution and Confusion: COVID19 and Lyme Disease
A final bit of information you should know is that Lyme Disease and the Coronavirus have similar symptoms and can be misdiagnosed and mistreated if your doctor cannot distinguish between the two correctly.
If you are bitten by a tick and develop a rash, followed by symptoms associated with Lyme disease, your doctor can feel confident you have Lyme and can begin a treatment round of antibiotics.
Sometimes a person does not see a tick or a bite site and develops no rash. They may develop Lyme symptoms but without the other go-to signs. Your doctor may think your flu-like symptoms, aches, and pains, and fever are related to COVID19.
Make sure your doctor does not jump to conclusions too quickly. Be assertive in asking for both the COVID19 test as well as the Lyme tests.
Finally, because Lyme disease is an autoimmune disease, contracting the Coronavirus could put you at higher risk for complications.
Take the pandemic seriously, especially if you have Lyme disease. Protect yourself, even when you think you are safe. Your immune system is not functioning at its full potential. Your doctor should provide you with additional Lyme disease therapies to boost your immune system during this time.
The following should be added to your Lyme disease protocols:
The key to getting through COVID19 without Lyme disease complications is working with a Lyme specialist who has extended knowledge and experience working with both Lyme disease and viruses like the Coronavirus. Doing so means you don’t have to fear a rise in Lyme during the pandemic.