Lyme disease, a concern for many outdoor enthusiasts, is an infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. In the United States alone, an estimated 476,000 cases are diagnosed and treated annually. Whether you are gardening, camping, hiking, or simply playing outdoors, understanding and preventing Lyme disease should be a key part of your plans.
Understanding the Risk
Geographically, people in New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest face the greatest risk. However, infected ticks are also found in neighboring regions and parts of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Awareness is crucial, as everyone, including your family, is susceptible.
Preventing Tick Bites: Preventing Lyme Disease
Where to Expect Ticks: Blacklegged ticks, the primary carriers of Lyme disease, thrive in moist, humid environments, particularly in wooded or grassy areas. To minimize exposure preventing Lyme disease, stick to the center of trails and avoid tall vegetation.
Repelling Ticks: Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply carefully, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth, especially on children. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin, which remains effective through several washes. The EPA offers a tool to help select the right repellent for you.
Perform Daily Tick Checks
After outdoor activities, thoroughly check your body for ticks. Pay special attention to underarms, ears, belly buttons, knees, hair, and waist. Ticks can also hitch a ride on clothing and pets, so inspect them as well. High-heat drying of clothes can effectively kill ticks.
Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly
If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it promptly with fine-tipped tweezers. Quick removal reduces the risk of disease transmission. Be vigilant for symptoms like rashes or fever in the following weeks and consult a healthcare provider if they appear.
Be Alert for Fever or Rash
Unexpected summer fevers or odd rashes could signal Lyme disease. If you experience these symptoms, especially after tick exposure, seek medical advice promptly.
Prevent Ticks on Animals
Limit your pets' access to tick-infested areas and use veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention products to keep them, and by extension your home, tick-free.
Create Tick-safe Zones in Your Yard
Modify your landscaping to minimize tick habitats. Keep play areas away from vegetation, clear leaves and tall grasses, and use wood chips or gravel as barriers. While chemical control agents can reduce ticks, they should not be the sole prevention strategy. Discourage deer, a primary food source for adult ticks, by removing attractive plants and considering physical barriers like fences.
Conclusion and Call to Action
Lyme disease is preventable with the right knowledge and precautions. By understanding the risks, taking preventive measures, and staying vigilant, you can enjoy the great outdoors without fear. For more information or assistance, don't hesitate to contact Altair Integrative Wellness at 907-357-1818. Stay safe and enjoy nature responsibly!