April 25, 2008

You Have Been Warned

Justin Katz

URI professor Tom Mather is officially warning Rhode Islanders that Lyme disease–bearing ticks will be especially prominent this year:

Based on his research of the tick population last year, University of Rhode Island professor Tom Mather predicts the number of ticks infected with Lyme disease will be unusually high this year, requiring extra caution from those who enjoy the outdoors. Mather is a well-known tick researcher and an expert on tick control.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health Web site, 90 percent of all reported cases of Lyme disease occur in the northeastern United States, and Rhode Island consistently has the second-highest number of infections in the country.

In order to protect themselves, Mather said people should remember the action plan he calls TICK, which stands for "Tweezers, Inspection, Clothing and Killing" ticks. Mather said people should always have tweezers, preferably tweezers with a pointed tip, readily available for tick removal. Next, people should be sure to inspect themselves once a day to ensure they are tick-free.

One thing that I didn't know: Apparently, Lyme disease is completely curable if caught sufficiently early.