Ticks and the Lyme disease they carry are major threats to the health of adults and kids. But with proper precautions, both tick bites and Lyme disease are preventable.
Deer populations have grown to 28 million from only 500,000 at the turn of the century. And as deer populations encroach on populated areas, the risks of deer ticks and the resulting tick bites and Lyme disease increase.
Take these precautions to prevent tick bites and exposure to Lyme disease:
- Dress smart: Tuck pants cuffs into boots or socks, and wear long sleeves and light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
- Stay on track: Stay to the center of hiking paths, and avoid grassy and marshy woodland areas. Ticks can’t jump; they simply hang on brush and tall grass waiting for you to rub up against them.
- Inspect daily: Inspect yourself and your children for clinging ticks after leaving an infested area and before tick bites happen. Deer ticks are hard to see, because nymphs are dot-sized and adults are smaller than a sesame seed. If you discover a tick feeding, don’t panic: studies indicate that an infected tick does not usually transmit the Lyme organism during the first 24 hours.
- Use repellent: When in a tick-infested area, prevent against tick bites with an insect repellent; however, consider using a product designed to be applied to clothing rather than your skin, or stick with natural tick repellents.
Deer ticks are most active from April through October, so caution must be exercised when venturing into tick country. If you spot a tick bite, or suspect Lyme disease or its symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.