Ticks and lyme disease: 4 tricks to prevent tick bites

Lyme disease

By pH health care professionals

Each year, around 300,000 people get diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. Most of these cases are concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest areas of the country. It all starts with a tick bite. Just one small bite can cause fatigue, headaches, fever, sweats, chills, muscle and joint pain, sleep trouble and memory issues. Many of the symptoms of Lyme overlap with other diseases, so getting the right diagnosis can be tricky.

The best way to stop Lyme is prevention. We need to get ahead of the tick bite.

Some of the most commonly recommended tick-avoidance techniques include wearing long pants, using repellant sprays with DEET, treating clothes with permethrin, routinely checking your body and clothes, and showering after spending time outdoors.

Now, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lars Eisen and Marc Dolan, are providing additional prevention techniques, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. These techniques focus on ways to make your yard as tick-unfriendly as possible, based on 30 years of evidence.

Here are four anti-tick techniques to try:

Use insecticide permethrin in your yard. Ticks often pick up the bacterium that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) from mice before passing it onto humans. If you can keep the ticks away from the mice, you can limit your exposure to Lyme. One way to do that, the scientists suggest, is using Damminix Tick Tubes, cardboard tubes filled with cotton balls treated with permethrin. You can place the tubes in your yard and the mice will use the cotton to build their nests. There is also a new “TickBot,” a four-wheeled robot that drags a permethrin-treated cloth across your yard.

Treat wooded areas with pyrethrin sprays. Pyrethrin insecticides can reduce the number of ticks around your property, but it wears off after a few weeks. You would need to reapply regularly. Try not to touch or inhale it though. Also beware that it could kill honeybees.

Keep deer out. Ticks feed and reproduce on deer, so reducing the deer in your yard may keep some of the ticks away. Homeowners with deer fencing around their property may have fewer ticks, but NPR points out, this tactic works best for properties of seven acres or more.

Make a barrier. Watch the area where the lawn meets the woods. Ticks love it! Try creating a barrier between your lawn and woods to make this habitat less desirable. Scientists have tried crushed stone, wood chips, sand and sawdust, NPR reports, but the most effective so far has been sawdust from the Alaskan yellow cedar.

Stay safe and tick-free! If you are concerned you may have Lyme, contact us! Our doctors are patient advocates nationwide and offer a wide variety of specialty testing in the Los Angeles area.

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