Spring Time = Tick Time

April is a great time to get outdoors and enjoy this great weather.  This Blog is directed for those of you who like to run, walk or cycle the trails.  I thought this would be a good time to post a Blog on how best to Prevent Lyme disease.  I am amazed at the number of patients that I have encountered who either currently have or that have previously had Lyme disease.  This is something you really do not want to ever get.  If caught early- it can be treated easily, but if not diagnosed right away you may end up with “late stage Lyme Disease” which is very difficult to treat.  I believe your best course of action is in Prevention.  Most of the following information here was written by the CDC (Center of Disease Control and Prevention).  Before gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, make preventing tick bites part of your plans.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick.

People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. But you and your family can prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease.

PROTECT YOURSELF FROM TICK BITES

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation.

Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin and can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply repellents to their children. Do not get repellent on children’s hands or in their eyes or mouth. Products that contain permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Treated items can stay protected through several washings.  Shower shortly after coming inside.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find.  Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around all head and body hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.

REMOVE ATTACHED TICKS QUICKLY AND CORRECTLY

Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.

Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms.

BE ALERT FOR FEVER OR RASH

Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you have symptoms.

PREVENT TICKS ON ANIMALS

Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick collars or spot-on treatment.

CREATE TICK-SAFE ZONES IN YOUR YARD

It’s pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).

  • Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for homeowners to use, or a professional pest control expert can apply them.
  • Discourage deer. Deer are the main food source of adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and by constructing barriers (like a fence) to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them. ​

I definitely want you to continue to lead the active healthy lifestyle that you want, and enjoying the outdoors is a great way to do so, just please be aware of the potential hazards of tick-borne illnesses, and please follow these guidelines to help prevent you or anyone you love from Lyme Disease or any other potential tick-borne illness.

If you have any questions about this Blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at: drtomball@performancehealthcenter.com or by phone at: (508) 655-9008.