If you feel like a walk in a park is all you need to feel physically and mentally better, then you might be right! In a study conducted by Andrew Mowen and other Penn State researchers, it was shown that the vast majority of Pennsylvanians view parks as a valuable place to promote overall health and wellness, and as a critical part of primary health care. These results were based on two surveys; one was sent out via mail to a random sample of 12,000 adults and the other was conducted with outpatients at a medical clinic run by Penn State College of Medicine.
Christopher Sciamanna, one of the co-investigators, thinks the reward structure for primary health care will change in the future. Sciamanna believes that doctors will be paid more for their prevention efforts and keeping patients healthy. Given this redefinition of health care, we may see an increase in the preservation and use of parks, trails and open spaces! (1)
Do you spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer? That’s great! One thing to keep in mind while enjoying nature is the risk for insect bites, especially tick bites. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium that is carried by blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus) which are often referred to as “deer ticks”. Ticks can attach to any part of the human body (or your furry friends) and are often hard to find.
Symptoms vary, but typically Lyme disease can be identified by a bull’s eye rash that is sometimes followed by flu-like symptoms. Although, keep in mind, that not everyone will experience a rash. Individuals who receive appropriate antibiotic treatment in the early stages often experience a full recovery; however, if Lyme disease isn’t caught in the early stages, symptoms can persist for more than 6 months (1).
Here are steps you can take to prevent contracting Lyme disease:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when outside. This prevents ticks from reaching your skin. Always wear socks and closed toe shoes if you are walking in a wooded area.
- Conduct a full-body tick check. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 2 hours).
- If you find an embedded tick, remove it using a tick removal devices or a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers. Follow these instructions to remove a tick: https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html (2).
It takes about 36 to 48 hours for the bacteria in the tick’s gut to be transferred. You want to make sure you do a full-body check and remove any ticks within 36 hours (3) of being bitten.
See a doctor if a bull’s eye rash appears. Be sure to tell your doctor when the bite occurred because it is possible to test negative even if you have Lyme disease. It can take 4-6 weeks for the blood tests to be positive.
Check out the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html) for more information about prevention, tick removal, symptoms and treatement.
- Signs and Symptoms | Lyme Disease | CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
- Tick removal and testing | Lyme Disease | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html
- Lyme disease transmission. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/transmission/index.html