Don’t let ticks tick you off this summer. These dangerous little insects can spread a number of diseases, and even worse, the number of cases of Lyme disease increases each year. In 2010, there were 22,561 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2000, there were 17,730 cases — that’s a 27% increase in 10 years.
In addition, in 2010, 94% of Lyme disease cases were reported from 12 states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
There is no full-proof diagnostic tool for Lyme disease, which means sufferers often go misdiagnosed and without appropriate treatment. And although Lyme disease is the most infamous of the tick-borne illnesses, there are a number of other diseases that ticks can pass along, including tick paralysis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
And thanks to the unseasonably warm winter we had this year, you can expect an even bigger increase in ticks this summer.
So before you run off to take a romp in the great outdoors, check out the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance’s 10 tick prevention tips to keep your safe and healthy this summer:
1. Wear tick-repellent clothing, especially clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks. You can spray your own clothing with permethrin or purchase such brands as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway or ElimiTick from L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports. This strategy is effective for up to 70 washes.
2. Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
3. Use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellent on exposed skin.
4. Keep to the center of woodland trails, and avoid walking along deer paths.
5. Every time you’ve been outside, check for ticks while you are out and as soon as you get back.
6. Shower as soon as you can. This will help remove unattached ticks from your body.
7. Take your clothes off and put them in the dryer at high heat for about 30 minutes.
8. Inspect your pets when they come inside.
9. Wear light-colored clothing to more easily spot ticks.
10. Neatly tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants’ legs into your socks.