Tick diseases are on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Prevention should be on everyone's lips, especially in spring, summer and early autumn, when ticks are most active. From May to July, people in the United States will transmit more tick bites and ticks than any other season. It is especially important to take measures to protect yourself and your loved ones (including pets) from ticks this season, and anytime in warmer months when you are out.
Many people do not know that they are endangered. More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide each year, while studies indicate that the actual number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is closer to 300,000. Despite these figures, a recent national survey reported that nearly 20 percent of respondents in areas where Lyme disease is prevalent did not know it was a risk. In addition, half of those surveyed in another study reported that they do not routinely protect themselves against tick bites in warm weather.
Preventing Lyme and other tick diseases is important every year. Predicting the number of Lyme borreliosis or other tick-borne infections and how to compare an upcoming season with previous years is complicated. Ticks that transmit diseases to humans can have life cycles of 2 to 3 years, and many factors can affect their numbers, including temperature, precipitation, humidity, and the amount of available hosts for the ticks, such as mice, deer, and other animals. In any given year, the number of ticks in an area will vary from region to region, state to state, and even county to county.
What is known is that regardless of the number of ticks this year, people should be aware that ticks can be in the areas where they live, work and play. Everyone should take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones, including pets. While not all ticks carry the same diseases, ticks can be found in every condition. In the continental United States, disease is more prevalent in some areas than in others:
Lyme disease risk is concentrated in the northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper-midwest with pockets of lower risk along the west coast. But also the range of the tick that transmits Lyme disease is growing. While nearly 95 percent of Lyme disease cases occur in 1
Other lesser known but serious tick-borne diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus and babesiosis. These diseases tend to focus on specific parts of the country. Babesiosis and anaplasmosis occur in the same areas as Lyme disease – mainly in the northeast and upper midwest. More than 60 percent of Rocky Mountain spotted fever cases occur in five states: Arkansas, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Steps to protect yourself and your family from a tick bite are the best defense against Lyme disease other tick-borne infections. Whether you work, enjoy your garden, camping, hiking, hunting or otherwise in nature, CDC recommends people:
Avoid areas of tall grass and foliage and walk in the middle of hiking trails when hiking.
Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, Para-Menthan Diol, or 2-undecanone. EPA's helpful search tool helps you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow the product instructions.
Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and equipment such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, or look for clothing that has been pre-treated with permethrin.
Treat dogs against ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and some tick-borne diseases. You can also bring ticks to your house. Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your dog.
Have a bath or a shower as soon as possible after you have come indoors to do the dishes and find more easily crawling ticks before they bite you.
Perform a Whole-body Tick Use a hand or full-body mirror to inspect all body parts when returning from the tick-infested areas. Parents should help children thoroughly check for ticks. Remove all ticks immediately.
Dry the laundry in a high heat dryer for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after getting inside. If the clothes are wet, additional time may be needed.