Prevention is the Key for Tick Borne Disease
A former park ranger sent this to me and it might be of some use. I have his email but he has yet to forward his name. While all the standard medical groups say one should use DEET, he "can't use DEET after having to apply it for years as a park ranger on a daily basis. It makes me sick when it is absorbed through my skin." Yet he does feel comfortable and has had "HUGE success with the Permanone product mentioned below, as do many others."
I am not an expert on Permanone or any product he mentions, so please do your own research before using. Yet I am grateful for permission to forward his many wise suggestions for your reflections.
The prevention tips below may help lower your risks from exposure to ticks and help prevent you and your family from becoming ill from tick borne diseases.
- Wear light colored clothing so ticks can be spotted easier and sooner. Consider tucking your pant legs into your socks but be aware this may give ticks a direct and undetected bee-line straight to your head if your clothes aren't treated properly with Permanone. Tie up long hair and/or wear a hat that has been treated with tick repellent.
- Do tick checks often while outdoors and as soon as you return home. Do a thorough tick check after your shower and again a few hours later. Check your children daily and teach them to make a 'tick check' a regular habit, like brushing their teeth. Be sure to also check your pets daily for ticks.
- Try using a rough surfaced scrubby or wash cloth in the shower to dislodge any ticks that might not have attached themselves completely.
- Shampoo that is designed to kill lice on humans may be used on occasion to kill ticks after a heavy exposure (example- after walking through nests of larval ticks). Read all label directions before using lice shampoo products on your hair.
- For most people, the occasional use of insect repellents isn't always enough to prevent tick exposure. A clothing treatment, Permanone, kills ticks and can be used by those who frequent the great outdoors. Permanone can be purchased in a spray can for approximately $6.00 at your local sporting goods store. Once treated, clothing may be washed and worn again for up to two weeks. It is highly recommended for treating shoes, boots, backpacks, and all outdoor wear. It has no scent so it can be used by hunters and those sensitive to perfume smells. Ticks, chiggers, and other insects that are trying to crawl across properly treated clothing will die, not simply be turned away or "repelled". Be advised, it can only be applied to clothing, NOT to your skin. Permanone can also be sprayed on screens, some furniture, and around buildings foundations for additional protection. Be sure to follow all safety precautions on the label and keep it out of the reach of children! You may keep clothing that has been treated with Permanone in plastic bags with a dated tag for easy access and maximum protection.
- Don't use fragrances that attract bugs, such as perfumed soaps, lotions, and creams. Natural insect repellents like citronella, garlic, rose, and geranium oil can be applied to exposed skin for added protection.
- Keep a bristle brush outside to brush off clothing when returning home. Place all clothing directly in a clothes dryer and run it for 20 minutes to kill ticks.
- Anything you can do to make your property less hospitable to deer, mice, and birds will have a impact on the tick population. If you have a large yard or wooded area, consider creating a "safe zone" for you and your family. You may not be able to prevent all ticks from entering the safe area but you can certainly reduce the numbers. Deer fencing can be used to help provide the "safe zones" in your yard if desired.
- Keep all grass cut SHORT so any ticks that try to hide there will be exposed to more sunshine and hotter, drier conditions. Ticks tend to crawl up tall blades of grass so they are better able to latch on the innocent passerby.
- Discourage deer and other wildlife from feeding in your yard by spraying 'edibles' with a garlic or hot pepper spray.
- Keep playground equipment and play areas in sunny locations in your yard. Do not use wood chips in play areas because it provides ideal living quarters for ticks.
- Keep bird feeders away from the house to discourage mice (a favorite host of ticks) from gathering or nesting near or in your home. Set traps to remove mice from the home.
- To treat your yard or other outdoor areas, a product called SEVIN (sold as a concentrated liquid or dust) can be applied. Sevin seems to have the least offensive chemical odor and is recommended for killing ticks. It can be applied to your dogs bedding area to help kill ticks that may gather there. Carefully follow the directions on the label. Sevin is usually less expensive than some of the other products on the market.
- Acorns and berries attract white-footed mice and other wildlife. Removing them from your safe zone might lessen the chance of additional tick exposure.
- Depending on your property layout, you can create a barrier around the edges of the open grass where the wooded areas meet your safe zone. Place a layer of wood chips 3 feet wide and 1-3 feet deep between your grass yard and the woods edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture it provides. Treat the chips regularly with Sevin or Permanone to kill the ticks living in or trying to cross the barrier. Be sure to keep pets and children out of the treated wood chip area.
- Save the cardboard inserts from toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Treat cotton balls with Permanone and place the cotton balls loosely inside the cardboard holders. Place the containers along the borders of your property. Hopefully any mice nearby will carry the treated cotton balls to their nest, exposing ticks to the treatment.
- Consider making your pets either inside pets only, or outside pets only. Studies show pet owners are more at risk for tick bites and contracting infectious tick borne diseases. Remember, even if you don't roam in unsafe areas, your pets do. They can carry ticks back into your house, exposing everyone inside. Ticks can live for over 6 months without a blood meal and an adult female can produce 2-5 thousand off spring. Some homes have been treated for tick infestation after female ticks laid eggs indoors, the eggs hatched, and the tiny ticks took up residence. Be sure to remove ticks from your clothing before getting into your vehicle. This will prevent ticks from calling your car their home.
- A special note to hunters- Check yourselves, your clothing, and your dogs before going home after a days hunt. If you are lucky enough to bag a deer or other wildlife, wrap the animal in a treated sheet as soon as possible, or properly hang the deer over an old sheet that has been liberally treated with Permanone. As the deer cools, ticks will drop off. As ticks land on the treated material and try to escape, they will die instead of taking up residence in your yard. This will help to prevent exposure to your family, your pets, and other families in the neighborhood. Deer meat or meat from other wild animals should be cooked thoroughly before eating. When butchering or handling raw meat, disposable gloves should be worn.
- Pets should be checked daily for ticks. Consider treating your pets with one of several products designed to kill fleas and ticks. Contact your veterinarian for more specific advise on the proper flea and tick control for your pet.
- Consider removing shrubbery and flowers from the base of your house or treat those areas with Sevin to prevent ticks from being in close contact with your home. Removing shrubs will also discourage animals from nesting or bedding there.
- If you suspect you may have a tick borne illness, or are bitten by a tick, or have the classic bulls eye rash (which is present in only a small number of those infected), seek advise from a doctor who is a member of ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases (see information below). If you or your children get flu like symptoms, joint pain, fatigue, depression, or any illness that does not resolve or returns after treatment is stopped, consider Lyme disease and other tick borne infections as the possible cause.
- If you suspect you have Lyme disease or any other tick borne diseases consider the possibility this could cause problems for your friends or family members. Spirochetes that cause Lyme disease have been found in breast milk, the uterus, semen, urine, blood, the cervix, tears, brain tissue, and other body fluids and tissues, so do take all necessary precautions to protect the ones you love.
- If you are bitten by a tick, prompt and proper removal is essential to prevent the ticks fluids from being forced into your body. To remove the tick, place tweezers as close to the skin as possible and steadily pull the tick out from the same direction it entered. Clean the site with rubbing alcohol and cover it with antibiotic ointment to help prevent secondary infections.