High time for ticks: camps staying proactive this summer

High time for ticks: staying proactive this summer

EQUINUNK, WAYNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- Lauren and Joel Rutkowski have been running Indian Head camp in Equinok for the better part of a decade.

The last several years...they've seen the conversation around Lyme disease shift.

"20 years ago, it wasn't talked about," said Joel.

But now it is, and they don't want kids or parents to be concerned about ticks - found in wooded areas and tall grass.

"Not only is being outside the best place to be, but over the summer, it's the only place to be. So we want kids outside, running around, free, going through trails, going through the mud, that's what childhood is all about and there are ways that you can make sure they do that safely," Joel said.

So they say they're tackling it on their 400 acre property with a multi-layered approach, including simple things like grass maintenance and eradicating certain types of vegetation that may be a draw to animals.

Their staff also assists campers in their own body checks after spending the day outside.

"And then, externally, we've partnered with really sort of professional and evidence-based organizations, Ivy Oaks Analytics and Fine's Pest Control, who do research in this area, track the research when they come on site, and look for ways to really minimize any exposure that we might have," Joel said.

They've seen this investment in prevention as beneficial.

"What's interesting is even though the national prevalence is increasing, after we had taken as preventative measures and treatment measures, our numbers were actually decreasing," said Lauren.

They used to thinks ticks only came from deer, but they've discovered that much of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is carried by rodents, and is ever-changing.

"I think Wayne County camps are the pioneers in this industry, I think they took this topic very seriously," Lauren said.

Dr. Michael Petersen with Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers says you can be infected with Lyme disease in the first 24 hours of of a tick bite.

"The classic symptom you're looking for is a rash which is a red flat rash frequently can have a little bull's-eye in it and that rash over a week and spread to different areas of the body and you can also have fevers, joint pain and muscle pain," he said, adding that it can be difficult to remove. "The best area to grab the tick is right at the bite site, as close to the head as possible and try to lift straight up and pull the tick completely out."

And the Rutkowskis say there may be no way to completely get rid of ticks, you can make sure you and your kids stay vigilant and check your bodies if you go outdoors.

Experts advise seeking medical treatment after tick bites, and receiving oral antibiotics within the first 30 days to avoid more serious symptoms.

To look for more information about Indian Head camp, head to their website.

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