Bay Area residents, be warned: though ticks are a much greater problem in the Northeastern and upper-Midwestern United States, the Bay Area has ticks, too.
And they come bearing gifts like Lyme disease, a bacterial condition that can lay you out, and if left untreated, can continue to debilitate you for years.
The Bay Area averages up to six Lyme cases a year, though some sources estimate that number to be higher due to poor testing procedures and ignorance among doctors, which almost always leads to underreported cases.
Dr. Bob Lane, a UC Berkeley entomologist, warned:
“Some physicians tell their patients that Lyme disease doesn’t exist in California or is very rare. [But] Lyme disease is locally an issue in some Bay area counties, such as in Sonoma and Marin.”
Now that you’re properly scared, take a deep breath. There are two key aspects to avoiding the contraction of Lyme: exercise reasonable caution and keep yourself healthy.
According BayNature, early to mid-summer is the period when people are most likely to come into contact with Lyme-bearing ticks. So if you go hiking, especially if you’re entering oak or Douglas fir woodland areas, wear repellant and make sure to check yourself for ticks as soon as you get home.
Okay, so that’s the caution side. The other side of this is to stay healthy. Sounds obvious, right? Hear me out.
If you’re eating well, exercising, and most importantly, you’re emotionally balanced, your chances of getting sick diminish considerably. When the opposite is true — you’re eating a poor diet, not getting enough physical activity and living in stress — your immune system can’t function properly.
For that reason, the best way to avoid getting Lyme, ironically, is to be cautious but not to dwell in fear of it. So go take a nice, relaxing bath and maybe avoid sitting on logs this time of year.
(If you think you may have contracted Lyme, here’s a link to the website of a company that has a reliable test for it. I’ve worked with them personally, and they’re the best out there.)