After being cooped up because of the pandemic, the last thing people want to worry about while enjoying the outdoors are pests. Unfortunately, as temperatures rise and people spend more time outside, the threat of tick bites and transmission of diseases increase.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there was a 44% increase in Lyme disease cases from the previous estimate, with more than 476,000 cases in the United States. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, which feed on the blood of humans and animals, as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tick Paralysis.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness and symptoms include fever, chills, headache, fatigue and a bullseye-shaped rash. Lyme disease can have long-lasting effects if not treated quickly, such as Bell’s palsy, arthritis and swelling of the joints.
This week is Tick Awareness Week, which aligns with Lyme Disease Awareness Month, to provide the opportunity to learn about prevention and protection against ticks. There are several steps to take to ensure people are properly protected to safeguard against tick-related threats.
10 Tips for Preventing Tick Bites:
- Dress smartly: If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, consider wearing long pants, long sleeves and closed-toe shoes. If you are hiking or in wooded areas, tuck your pants into your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up your pant legs.
- Insect repellent: Use repellents with EPA-registered ingredients, which have been evaluated for safety and efficacy. These products will have an EPA number on the label. Repellents with one of the following active ingredients is recommended to prevent tick bites:
o At least 20% DEET
o Picaridin (KBR 3023 or Icaridin outside of the U.S.)
o Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) – not to be confused with Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil/Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
o Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
o 2-Undecanone (Essential Oil)
- Stay away from thick vegetation: Try to stay away from thick vegetation. Stay in the center of hiking trails and keep your pets from rubbing against brush.
- Lighten up: Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.
- Daily inspections: When coming in from the outdoors, inspect yourself, your family and your pets for ticks.
- Keep your yard tidy: Remove weeds and cut grass low. Ticks love to hide in vegetation.
- Regular vet appointments: Maintain routine check-ups for your pets and ask your veterinarian about tick prevention.
- Frequent groomings: Keep your pets safe by maintaining frequent groomings to keep their fur tidy, which makes it easier to spot ticks.
- Professional treatment: Contact a pest management professional, such as Ehrlich Pest Control, to get a tick treatment for your yard. The professional treatment will target the tick harborage spots in your yard.
- Remove the tick ASAP: If you have taken these precautions and still spot a tick, remove it ASAP. The longer it is attached, the higher the chance of pathogen transmission. Use tweezers to grasp the tick by the head, as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. Do not twist the tick or grasp by the abdomen, which could potentially squeeze pathogens from the tick right into the bite site. Use tweezers to gently grab the tick near the head and as close to the skin as possible. Preserve the tick in isopropyl alcohol and call your doctor immediately.