Prevent Lyme Disease, Avoid Ticks!

by lmatthews on April 2, 2012

lyme disease prevention avoid ticks

Ticks are tiny! Avoid them to avoid Lyme disease.

The New York State health department is keen to reduce the number of Lyme disease cases this year in the face of warnings that tick populations are on the rise and many more people might get the infection. Lyme disease prevention is largely about awareness by the individual as state-wide tick control methods are notoriously difficult to implement and often have limited success.

Top tips on how to avoid Lyme disease, courtesy of the New York state health department include advice on prevention of bites and what to do if you have been bitten by a tick.

Prevention

During lovely spring and summer weather it’s hardly realistic to avoid going outdoors altogether but knowing the level of Lyme disease risk in your area can help you take preventative steps for you and your family. Lyme disease maps may help, although it is commonly thought that reported cases of Lyme disease represent only a tiny fraction (perhaps a tenth) of actual cases. Minimize your risk with these top tips:

  • Wear light-colored thick-weave clothing to act as a barrier to ticks and make them easier to see
  • Tuck everything in! Pants into socks, shirt into pants, and wear long-sleeved shirts for full coverage against ticks
  • Remain vigilant – check clothes and skin for ticks while outdoors and when returning home
  • Use permethrin on clothing (not on skin), or DEET, or alternative tick-repellents if desired
  • Keep to the center of paths, avoid brush and densely wooded areas or shrubbery. Keep to trails.
  • If sitting, use a light-colored blanket rather than sitting directly on stone walls, grass, or ground
  • Tie back long hair, even when pottering in the garden
  • Shower after returning indoors to wash off any ticks
  • Check your skin using a magnifying glass and check other family members (including dogs, cats, and children), especially in the creases of skin, such as the knees or toes – remove ticks promptly and carefully.

Spotting Lyme Disease Early

Lyme disease can be difficult to spot, especially if the first signs are absent or missed. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a distinctive bulls-eye rash at the site of the bite, as well as a flu-like illness, although some patients experience no early symptoms and are only aware of a potential infection when a secondary rash appears, joint pain occurs, cognitive symptoms arise, or one or more of the myriad Lyme disease symptoms appears. Removing a tick early reduces the risk of infection and ticks can be saved for tick-check purposes should the patient develop symptoms. In most cases, prophylactic antibiotics are not deemed necessary but patients should seek medical attention at the earliest point possible if they suspect they have Lyme disease. Preventing Lyme disease is always better than attempting to cure the infection, so follow these Lyme disease prevention tips and, hopefully, you and your family will stay Lyme disease-free.

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