May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and while you may be thinking you are usually careful, you might want to think again. In 2021, the CDC shared that “approximately 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease” each year. It seems that the number of ticks carrying the disease increases annually and in 2021, Fox 5 reported that on Long Island and in Connecticut, a whopping 56% of ticks carried the disease. This is a health risk for both people and pets.
So how can you keep yourself safe from the dreaded tick bite? First, you must arm yourself with knowledge. You’ll find ticks in the grass, as in your own backyard, and in wooded areas. If you are a gardener, camper, hunter, or just enjoy the outdoors, you are likely to come across ticks. Make sure that when enjoying time outdoors, you wear light-colored clothing, so that you see the ticks more easily. You can also use a repellant on your shoes and clothing, and there are many options available, both chemical and organic.
Make sure to brush your clothes off before you enter your home, and take a shower, checking your body for any ticks that may have slipped under your clothes.
Treating your outdoor home area is another way to help avoid a tick bite. There are, again, both chemical and organic treatments that you can hire a company to spray or that you can do yourself. The same goes for your pets. You’ll want to treat them with a preventative of some sort, which you can get from your vet or pet store. It’s important to check your pet for ticks daily during peak seasons, the warmer months, even if they are being treated with a preventative. If you do get bit, don’t panic. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. You should, however, pull it gently from your skin with a tweezer and save it in a small plastic container or Ziploc bag, and store it in the freezer. You can take the tick to a doctor to get it tested for Lyme straight away, or you can wait to see if you develop symptoms such as the classic Bull’s Eye rash, flu-like symptoms, fever, stiff neck, or headaches. If you develop these symptoms and don’t recall getting bitten by a tick, you can still request Lyme testing from your doctor.
As the warmer weather rolls in, don’t worry about being outside. Simply take precautions and make sure to check for ticks on yourself, family members, and pets daily.