For as long as television has mesmerized children health-conscious parents have urged them to go outside and play on the premise that fresh air and exercise would benefit them more than mindless programming.
That's still good advice but it should be accompanied by a warning these days for Crow Wing County parents: Check your kids for Lyme disease.
With 149 cases reported, Crow Wing County had more incidents of Lyme disease in 2002 than any other county in the state.
Lyme disease is caused by deer tick bites and can be detected by a skin rash, joint inflammation and flu symptoms. It's an inflammatory ailment often characterized by a red rash at the site of the bite. Two other deer tick diseases to be aware of are ehrlichiosis and babesiosis which cause fevers, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Babesiosis symptoms may also include fatigue and loss of appetite.
Deer ticks are more difficult to spot than the ubiquitous wood ticks but here are some tips a Crow Wing County health department official recommended at a county board briefing.
-- Check yourself and your children after being outdoors.
-- Walk in the center of a trail to avoid grass and bushes.
-- Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are more likely to be spotted.
-- Tuck pants into your socks and long-sleeved shirts into your pants. Crow Wing County's state-leading number of Lyme disease cases is most likely caused by the combination of a growing, active population and an inviting locale for outdoors enthusiasts. The high incidence of the disease here shouldn't scare people from enjoying the outdoors as long as residents and visitors keep their eyes open for the symptoms.
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