In 2015 scientists that hunt ticks predicted that in 2017 ticks would be more than just a nuisance, but rather they would be booming and reeking havoc across the country spreading Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Unfortunately, those scientists were right.
This year has been one of the worst on record and continues to shape up as one of the worst surges of ticks this country has seen in years. Not only can ticks spread Lyme disease, but there are also other diseases such as the Powassan virus, which is on the rise in states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The black-legged tick spreads Lyme disease and it has been dubbed ‘the great imitator’ due to the fact that symptoms of Lyme disease can easily resemble other conditions like the flu. Lyme disease is a bacterium that can cause severe neurological damage among those left untreated. For most, once they are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease early on they recover fully.
The Powassan virus is similar to that of Lyme disease, but left untreated it can cause swelling of the brain, respiratory and neurological issues. Unfortunately, there have been more cases reported in 2017 than in previous years for this specific virus.
So how do you keep your family safe from these tiny bugs?
The best ways to prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses is to ensure that you and everyone in the household check their bodies daily for ticks. Whether you’ve been out hiking, biking or you simply live near a wooded area, always check your body especially your head, neck, ears, elbows, behind your knees and in your groin area.
If you do find a tick that has bitten you and attached itself, always follow instructions for removal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site. There are a lot of ‘home remedies’ staking claims to being able to rid yourself of ticks by causing the tick to detach from your body by itself. It’s best to avoid these claims and simply remove a tick as quickly as possible from your body.
The CDC recommends using tweezers and gripping the tick as close to the skin as possible then pulling out steadily. Avoid any twisting or jerking motions so the head doesn’t stay in the skin. Then, use rubbing alcohol and soapy water to wash the skin thoroughly.
Always get rid of a tick by flushing it down the toilet or placing it in a sealed bag to die. If you crush a tick, you run the risk of exposure to tick-borne illnesses.
Other ways to prevent tick bites include spraying skin with an insect repellent such as DEET, picaridin and even products from the Avon Skin So Soft line have known to be successful repellents. While DEET is always the most powerful preventative method of ticks and other insects biting you, it also can be bad for your skin in large quantities over time and it needs to be reapplied as often as every two hours. It was recently discovered that while some blends of essential oils work surprisingly well on detracting mosquitoes, the same is not true for ticks.
For those that are especially exposed to tick-laden areas, one expert notes that getting your clothing professional treated with what is known as permethrin will help repel ticks. Permethrin, an insecticide, is used on clothing and shoes allowing for nearly a 75 percent reduction in tick bites.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that since 2006, the organization has been frequently testing permethrin on humans. So far, the agency states, there seems to be no inherent risk to humans nor is there to woman who are pregnant and treat their clothing in permethrin.
Additionally, ensure that your yard is free from leave piles. Tick experts also note that Japanese barberry, which is an exotic plant used as in landscaping, has been known to provide an ideal climate for ticks to breed and live undisturbed. It is highly recommended that you remove any Japanese barberry in your yard in order to decrease the risk of tick bites and infestation.
Again, the best method of treating ticks is to be diligent about checking your family and your pets often. Animals, such as dogs, can carry ticks into your home, so be sure to give them a daily check as well. Also, wear long sleeve clothing, pants, socks and adequate footwear when in wooded areas.
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