The spring and summer seasons in the Capital Region mean more and more runners taking to the streets and trails for their runs and, as such, more and more runners risking their health. While running outdoors is a wonderful experience and breathing in all that fresh air can be invigorating, there is a downside. Unfortunately, the downside is a very tricky, tenacious foe: The Lyme disease spirochete carrying deer tick.
The Albany area is a high-risk area for Lyme disease (view risk map) so it is critical that all runners be aware of the precautions they can take to reduce their risk of contracting Lyme disease, and what the symptoms are.
Precautions for runners
- Avoid tick-infested areas as much as possible.
- When running on trails, try to stick to ones that a cleared and well-traveled.
- Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
- Use insect repellent with DEET, especially if you will be running off-trail or through overgrown areas.
- When stretching after a run, remain standing. Sitting on the ground can make it easier for ticks to crawl higher on your body.
- Scan your clothes and body completely after all of your outdoor runs. Pay close attention to your hair, neck, underarms and creases in your skin. Those tend to be the areas that ticks prefer.
- If you find a tick, remove it immediately. Doing so before the tick has had a chance to embed itself will reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Lyme disease symptoms
- The first symptom has historically thought to be an expanding "bull's eye" rash, usually around the area of a tick bite (but it can occur in other areas, not related to the area of the bite). However, according to a recent article in the Times Union, the "bull's-eye rash associated with Lyme only appears in 7 percent of cases," making it an unreliable marker.
- Joint pains, chills, fever, and fatigue.
- Tingling or numbness in the extremities or facial palsy.
If you notice any of the above symptoms and there is a chance that you have been bitten by a tick (and, if you are in the Capital Region and you spend any time outdoors, you are at risk), then you should see a doctor and be tested for Lyme disease. Prompt medical attention and treatment can reduce the severity of the disease substantially.
Stay vigilant and you can enjoy your outdoor runs while reducing your Lyme disease risk.