Summer is the peak season for the tick population and that means a higher risk of contracting the diseases they carry. Pennsylvania leads the country in the number of Lyme disease cases and this season aims to be the worst in years. Confirmed cases of Lyme disease have been on the rise in recent years, growing from nearly 17,000 cases in 2001 to almost 30,000 in 2015. Here is how to keep you and your family safe from the dangerous diseases ticks carry.
How to Avoid Ticks
- Avoid wooded, brush filled areas, especially those with tall grass or weeds and leaf litter. Always walk in the center of wooded trails.
- Use an insect repellent containing at least 20% DEET
- Keep your lawn cut and treat with pesticide if possible
- Wear lightly colored clothing that will make spotting ticks easier when you plan to be near wooded areas
- Wear clothing that is treated with products containing at least 0.5% permethrin. It will be protective through several washes. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
If You Find an Attached Tick
Remove attached ticks properly and quickly if you find one. Ticks carry a variety of diseases beyond Lyme disease, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, Ehrlichiosis, Relapsing fever, and others.
First, use a pair of fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Next, pull it upward with even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick forcefully. This can cause the mouth piece of tick to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, attempt to remove the mouth parts with the tweezers, if you are unable to, leave the bite spot alone and allow the skin to heal. Lastly, clean the bite area and your hands with alcohol or soap and water.
Submerge the tick in alcohol, wrap it in tape, or flush it down the toilet to ensure it is dead. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Avoid natural remedies such as nail polish or fire to make the tick detach. You want to remove it quickly, not wait for it to detach. Lyme disease can anywhere from 24-48 hours to transfer to you, so fast action is important.
Watch the bite area in the following weeks after removing the tick. If you develop a fever or rash, speak with your doctor. Inform them of when the tick was found, removed, and where you likely got it. Lyme disease has a key warning sign in many people and the bite area will develop a “bulls eye” rash, though some do not get the rash, which is why following your symptoms and acting quickly is crucial.
The only way to prevent the diseases that ticks carry is to be proactive. Check your clothes and your pets after being outside so you do not let them into your home. Dry your clothes on high height to kill any ticks you may have missed after being in brush or wooded areas. It is important to make you health a priority, and we are here to help. Call us at 724-929-2300 today to get a free quote on health or life insurance and let us do the comparing for you.