Recommendations to Prevent Lyme Disease & Tick-Borne Infections
Try to avoid tick-infested areas. Ticks require a humid environment to survive and can be encountered in a variety of settings including yards, fields, woodlands, along woodland trails, as well as in leaf litter and brush piles. They can also be found near old stone walls, woodpiles, tree stumps and fallen logs.
Wear light colored long pants and long sleeved shirts. Tuck pants into socks. By reducing the amount of skin exposed, you will also reduce the number of places a tick can attach. It is easier to spot a tick on light colored clothing.
When engaging in outside activities, you should treat clothing, shoes, and any gear that could end up on the ground with permethrin. Other than complete avoidance of tick-infested areas, this one protective measure will do more good to protect you or your children from tick bites than any other. You may also purchase pre-treated tick repellant clothing. Brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway or ElimiTick can be purchased from retailers like L.L.Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports and are effective for up to 70 washes.
Make sure to wear tick repellent on exposed skin. You can buy insect repellents with synthetic chemicals such as IR3535, Picaridin, and DEET. Alternatively, if you prefer using natural repellants, you can try essential oils like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil and Cedar Oil.
When returning from the outdoors, you should place any untreated dirty clothes in a re-sealable bag until these clothes can be put in a dryer for 20-30 minutes, which would kill any existing ticks. Sealing up the untreated dirty clothes will prevent any ticks that might be on these items from being transported to clean clothes, bedding and anywhere else.
Conduct daily body checks for ticks following outside activities, as well as at night before going to bed. Remember that some ticks are extremely small (about the size of a poppy seed or the period at the end of a sentence). Ticks like to attach around moist areas of the body, and can often be found between the toes, behind the knees, in the navel and groin areas, armpits, back of neck, skin creases, and in hair.
Shower or bathe after outdoor activities.
If you do find an attached tick, you must follow steps to properly remove the tick. Use fine-point tweezers or tick removal tool to grasp the tick at the place of attachment, as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out, without twisting. DO NOT grab the body of the tick or use heat, nail polish, oils or other topical agents.
Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers and the bite site with an alcohol pad or similar disinfectant. Save the in a small container or baggie labeled with the name, address, date and estimated hours attached. Residents in the South may send ticks to Dr. Kerry Clark at the University of North Florida for Lyme testing. Other labs can test for other potential infections as well, but charge varying amounts for testing.
Strongly consider treating with antibiotics to prevent a disseminated, harder to treat, infection. Taking a wait and see approach can be risky.
Transmission of Lyme Disease and other bacterial, viral and parasitic infections can take place in a matter of MINUTES, particularly if the tick is not removed properly.
Research shows that there is no minimum attachment time for transmission of a Lyme Disease infection. The arbitrary 36 hour minimum attachment presumption is extremely misleading and can have life-altering consequences if an infection is not treated early.
In addition to Lyme Disease, ticks can also transmit many other viral, bacterial and parasitic infections/diseases such as Babesiosis, Tularemia, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, Bartonellosis, Bourbon Virus, Heartland Virus, Powassan disease among others. Many studies have found ticks infected with two or more of these pathogens can result in more serious symptoms and pro-longed illness.
Not all ticks are infected with disease-causing pathogens, but increasingly many are infected.