During the summer, two of the things people try to avoid are ticks and tick bites – for very good reasons. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and other vector-borne illnesses, which nobody wants, and the bugs are easy to pick up when out and about during the spring and summer months. They are most commonly found in long grass and wooded areas, including the backyard. Here are some suggestions on how to protect against ticks this summer.
Take Care of the Yard
Keep grass mowed and trees trimmed. Ticks tend to live in heavily wooded and shaded areas, so also move any piles of wood away from the home. Keep play areas such as sandboxes, swing sets, and pools away from wooded areas and tree lines. You should also avoid placing play areas close to rock walls, as they are another known tick breeding ground.
Preparation is Key
When dressing for a hike or when gardening, wear long pants that can be tucked into socks, as well as long sleeves. Whenever possible, wear clothing that is treated with tick repellent such as DEET or Permethrin, which can be purchased either pre-treated or can be self-treated. Just remember, when self-treating, it is important to spray the clothing in a ventilated area and to allow the clothing to fully dry before wearing it.
Check for Ticks
When you return home from an area where you are likely to encounter ticks, be sure to check your body for ticks, as one or more may be on your body and not yet fully attached (which they must be in order to feed and transmit disease). Removing them immediately, before they attach, will ensure they cannot bite and transmit disease.
Dry Clothing Before Washing
Take all clothing worn when you are outside where you may encounter ticks and run it through the dryer for ten minutes on high. This will kill any ticks that may be hanging on to the clothing. Simply washing the clothing is not enough – it is the heat of the dryer that will eradicate the ticks on the clothes.
The soap and water will wash off unattached ticks. Pay special attention to areas that ticks love to attach to, such as in and around the ears and hair, in the navel, between the legs, and on the back of the knees.
Timing is Important
The longer a tick is attached, the more likely it is to transmit disease, so diligence when checking the body and clothes is an important step to combating Lyme disease. It usually takes 36 to 48 hours for an attached tick to pass Lyme disease on to a human host, though it can happen in less time, depending on the situation.
If a Tick is Already Attached
If a tick has attached itself to your body, there are many folk remedies for how to remove it. However, experts recommend grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of fine-point tweezers and pulling straight upward without twisting or turning the tweezers. The goal is to ensure no mouth parts are left inside the body, where they can still infect a person. Doing things like putting petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, or other substances on the tick will just agitate it and cause it to release toxins through its mouth, so be sure to cleanly pull it off using tweezers and ignore anything else that people suggest.
Test That Tick
After removing a tick, the best thing to do is to seal it in a container or a plastic bag so a doctor can see if the tick is carrying Lyme disease. If this is not possible, the person bitten by the tick should lookout for a tell-tale circular rash that is lighter in the center and gets progressively more red as it spreads. Other symptoms that should be checked out by a doctor are headache, fever, and fatigue.
These are some of the most effective things you can do to avoid getting ill from these pests that love a nice “blood dinner” from a human host. Body and clothing checks are one of the most important ways to protect yourself and loved ones from ticks, as you will usually catch ticks before they are able to latch on and bite. By following these simple steps, it is easier to enjoy summer activities without having to worry about the serious effects of Lyme disease and other diseases that are spread by ticks.
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About Scott Shaw
Scott Shaw is the owner/operator of Mosquito Joe of Gold Coast CT. Mosquito Joe is a Stamford-based company that specializes in mosquito and tick control that has been servicing the area since 2018. Scott holds supervisory level certifications from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on proper pesticide usage. He is married with 3 young children. Prior to launching Mosquito Joe, he was an HR executive with companies such GE, PwC, and Willis Towers Watson. Website: Mosquito Joe
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