Dangers lurk around trails and in tall grasses on our mountains and hills. There’s the usual suspects — rattlesnakes, mountain lions, poison oak — but another, less visible threat also exists. With their babies clocking in at the size of a poppy seed, ticks can be found year-round in Marin, and they are “vectors,” or disease transmitters, with about 1 in 50 carrying Lyme disease. Most Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially if the infection is diagnosed and treated early; however, up to 20 percent of people who get it report symptoms for months and years, even after treatment. It’s common for dogs to receive a Lyme vaccine, but their owners aren’t so lucky. A Lyme vaccine for humans is currently in the first phase of FDA testing after a previous vaccine was discontinued in 2002. Until this new one or another one is available, here are some tips for staying tick-free on your outings.
• Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves and long pants in areas where ticks may live.
• Shower and check for ticks after hikes for several days. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before Lyme is transmitted.
• Apply repellent to your body and clothes containing permethrin or DEET.
• Talk to your doctor if you develop a bull’s-eye-looking rash or experience fatigue, headache, fever and/or depression.