Spring is almost here, and so it’s time once again to turn our attention to preventing Lyme disease. Everyone is susceptible to Lyme disease, especially those who garden, hike, camp or play outdoors on a regular basis.
Did you know the CDC has estimated that some 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year in the United States? (Incredibly, less than 30,000 cases are reported annually.) People who live in the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic and upper Midwestern states are especially vulnerable to Lyme disease.
Let’s take a look at a few different ways to prevent Lyme disease.
Be Aware of Your Location
Lyme disease results from tick bites. The best way to prevent a bite is to be aware of where ticks typically reside. You’ll find plenty of ticks in humid and wet spaces like grassy and wooded areas. They’re present on shrubs, leaves, trees and other greenery; you definitely don’t have to take a hike into the middle of dense woods to come into contact with ticks. You could be rolling around in the grass with your kids, for instance, and be bitten. Be proactive to protect yourself from bites. Avoid walking in between shrubs and through leaf litter. Do your best to stay away from thick and tall vegetation. You’ll also decrease your chances of a tick bite by walking in the center of trails when hiking.
Use Strong Repellent
Certain repellents will offer protection against Lyme disease. When shopping for repellents, choose one with DEET. Repellents with 20 percent or more DEET can be sprayed right onto the skin. It will protect you for at least a couple hours, as long as you apply it as indicated by the spray’s instructions. Apply a repellent with permethrin to your gear, boots and clothing. Give them a thorough spray and they’ll be protected through a couple washing machine cycles. Don’t let your kids apply tick repellents. Parents should apply them carefully so that the spray doesn’t reach their children’s eyes, mouth or hands. (Click here to see tips on the use of DEET from the EPA.)
Safeguard Your Yard
Modify your home’s yard to keep the ticks out. It is prudent to hire a professional pest control service to apply anti-tick chemicals to your yard. Position all of your family’s playground equipment and the home’s patio furniture far away from greenery like bushes, trees and gardens. Dispose of leaf litter on a regular basis. Clear out tall grass and other overgrown greenery from your yard. You can also prevent ticks by placing gravel or wood chips between lawn sections and wooded spaces.
Do your best to keep deer away from your property. Deer often carry ticks that will hop onto your shrubs, grass and other greenery. Install some physical barriers to prevent deer from accessing your property. You should also take an inventory of your plants and read up on which are the most attractive to deer. Remove all the plants that pique the interest of deer and you’ll decrease your susceptibility to Lyme disease.
Pets and Ticks
You can prevent your family’s pets from bringing ticks into your home if you don’t allow them to enter spaces that commonly have ticks. Don’t let them wander into the woods, hiking trails, or other areas with significant greenery. You can also prevent ticks on animals by using a spot-on treatment or a tick collar as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Inspect your body for ticks after you’ve spent time outdoors. Even if you’ve only spent an hour in your backyard, you should still conduct a tick check. Perform a full body check after you’ve been to areas like the woods, camping sites and hiking trails. Don’t merely look down to your bare skin to check for ticks and bites. Perform a thorough examination with a full-length or handheld mirror. Ticks are often found in and around the ears, under the arms, on the backs of the knees, around the waist, between the legs, on the head, in body hair and inside the navel.
Once you’ve checked your skin for ticks, you should examine your clothing. Ticks can attach themselves to clothing and eventually make their way onto your skin or even onto your pets. So check your pets every now and then for ticks. If you’d prefer, you can just put your clothing into the dryer on the highest heat setting; that will kill any ticks that may have found their way onto your garments.
Found A Tick? Remove It Right Away
If you discover a tick on your skin, hair, clothing or pets, you should remove it within minutes. If you eliminate the tick within 24 hours of its attachment, you’ll significantly decrease your chances of developing Lyme disease. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick. If you notice your temperature increasing, or if you develop a rash in the ensuing hours, days or weeks, you should see your doctor in order to determine if you have Lyme disease.
Peter Benz Can Help
Peter Benz Landscaping installs deer fencing, which can significantly reduce the number of Lyme disease-carrying ticks on your property. We also install Damminix Tick Tubes® to successfully protect against any of the Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks that deer transport onto your property. For more information about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us today.