I will be doing a Lyme Education class this month called “Got Lyme?” and it occurred to me that I could probably speak hours on just prevention.
Now that warmer weather is here to stay (we hope), being attentive to the fact that ticks and mosquitoes carry Lyme is the first thing to do.
Any activity that pertains to being outdoors and in high grasses are the areas where people need to be super vigilant. There is no one group of people that need to be more mindful, but the fact is children and teens, (ages 8 to 16), make up 60% of the people who become new cases every year. Children on field trips have been at high risk as well.
There are ticks and other blood sucking critters all over the 50 States. It is more prevalently discussed on the East coast but being bitten by a tick can happen anywhere in the United States.
The habitat for these vectors can be anywhere that is humid and warm. They love leaf litter, stacked wood piles, tall grasses and weeds, stone walls any kind of wooded area, and sides of roads and trails.
Be attentive in any area where deer and mice have free reign and in the south west be cautious of areas where lizards abound.
Anyone with a compromised immune system should be extra careful. Warmer weather, (spring through fall), is when these vectors are more active. Those with any autoimmune diseases should take extra precautions and be careful.
When planning to go for a hike or walking in the forest, wear light colors, tuck pants into socks and for the head, a nice hat or baseball cap. Use permethrin on clothes, preferably before dressing. Spray until damp, let dry then dress. Another choice is to find clothes that are already treated. (Such as Insect shield.) They are expensive, but available if one should wish for them. Also there are clothes made of Rynoskin. This product is available in long sleeved shirts, undergarments, long bottoms socks, hoods and gloves. Do not go hiking in bare feet, sandals or flip flops.
On the trails, stay in the center and try not to brush up against brush and such. Remember that ticks can fall on you. Monitor every two to three hours to check for any ticks to be safe. If you find one, put in a container to save and be tested. When you get home after your adventure, have someone check you in places you cannot see and also do double check on clothes and hairlines. After bathing check again and then after a night or so check bed linens. If you have pets, check them and their bedding as well.
When using repellents, read all of them carefully and remember that it is not recommended to use Deet on children. There are a number of products out there: Deet, Picaridin, Permethrin, and Botanical choices containing oil of geranium, cedar, lemon grass, soy and citronella. Oh yes, who can forget Avon’s Skin So Soft? Whatever you choose, be careful and cautious and it is suggested not to mix it with sunscreens. Put sunscreen on first let it dry then apply repellent to your clothes.
When a tick is found the best way to remove it is by using fine point tweezers as close as possible to the skin and mouth of the tick and pull back with a slow and steady force. If the mouth parts come of, gently remove the mouth part. Wash the site with warm water and soap. Apply alcohol or another disinfectant. Wash your hands and save the tick. One way is to put it in between two pieces of tape and tape it in. No escaping that! After that, wash your hands again and save the tick for testing.
Each state has agricultural extension services should have testing available. If not, you can send it to Igenex for a fee or find a local trained tester who can test or procure tests for you, (such as myself). Once that is done, get tested yourself, just as a precaution. It is my suggestion to get tested at the minimum once every three weeks for three months. The reason is due to the life cycle of the bacteria and protozoans.
Now that we know all of this, you are ready to enjoy the great outdoors with information to keep you safe. It’s a beautiful world out there. Go forth safely and happily!