Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Top Tick Protection Tips & Ten Things You Need to Know

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Insect Shield Tick Repellent Apparel & Gear

"Our tick spotter reports are indicating people are encountering ticks all over America in high numbers," says Dr. Tom Mather, professor of Public Health Entomology at URI.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness month, the start of summer travel season and a good time to share information about staying protected from ticks. There are more ticks in more places than ever before. Lyme disease has now become one of the fastest growing epidemics to date. The CDC estimates the number of cases in the US alone to be about 300,000 cases a year. Tick encounter rates are soaring and it is time to get educated on best practices to avoid bites and lessen the risk of Lyme disease.

Experts at the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center are hearing via their TickSpotters program, a crowd sourced tick survey across America, that all types of ticks seem to be more abundant this year than in the past. While this year's increase may be partially related to current tick-favorable moist weather conditions, and an abundance of tick reproductive hosts last year, typically May and June are peak season for ticks anyway.

People's tick encounter risk stays high as outdoor activities increase. "Our tick spotter reports are indicating people are encountering ticks all over America in high numbers," says Dr. Tom Mather, professor of Public Health Entomology at URI.

A Few Key Tips for Protection

1.) Your Yard: Ticks are not out in the middle of your lawn, they live where yards border wooded areas, or anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity. Place a layer of wood chips between your grass yard and the woods edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture it provides.

2.) Tick Checks: Do periodic tick checks (on yourself, children and pets) and carefully remove any found. (Wear light colored clothing so ticks are easier to find.)

3.) Identify/Avoid Tick Habitats - Outdoor Pursuits: Shady, wooded and weedy edges are favorite spots for ticks to hang out. Avoiding tick habitats can be difficult but there are plenty of ways - such as always walking in the middle of maintained trails - to limit tick encounters.

When on a hike, bike, or walk try to remain in the center of a trail in order to minimize your exposure. Remember - ticks cannot fly, they crawl up. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, woodpiles or fallen logs - areas where ticks love to live.

4.) Personal Protection: Wear tick repellent clothing. Insect Shield Repellent Apparel is EPA registered to repel ticks (as well as a variety of other pesky and potentially dangerous insects.) The repellency is odorless, invisible and long-lasting. Insect Shield apparel is available for adults, kids and even your dog!

5.) Remove Ticks Safely: To safely remove attached ticks, first disinfect the area with an alcohol swab. Next, using a pointy tweezer, grab the tick "head" as close to the skin as possible and simply pull straight out. Remember to disinfect the bite site again after pulling the tick out.

Top Ten Tick Facts

10. Ticks crawl up Ticks don't jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body.

9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes

8. Ticks can be active even in the winter. That's right! Deer Ticks in particular are not killed by freezing temperatures, and will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen.

7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.

6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria. The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its "cousins" found around the world.

5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick's saliva.

4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it's important to know what you're really looking for. They're easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.

3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer Using really pointy tweezers, it's possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter.

2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing (shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt) with Insect Shield® tick repellent built-in.

1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable. There is really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that's from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, wearing tick repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month and getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

Insect Shield Tick Repellent Apparel Insect Shield’s EPA-registered technology converts clothing and gear into effective and convenient insect protection. The repellency is long-lasting and appropriate for use by the entire family with no restrictions for use.

Products include apparel, gear and even equestrian and pet products.

Quick Facts:

  •     Repellency is in the clothing and gear – not on your skin
  •     Long-lasting, repellency lasts the expected lifetime of the product
  •     No restrictions for use
  •     Appropriate for the entire family
  •     No need to re-apply
  •     Repels mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects that can carry Lyme disease, malaria and other dangerous insect-borne diseases

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Janine Robertson
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