Lyme and tick-borne diseases have been diagnosed in all 50 states, so even if you live outside of the Northeast, you are still at risk!
The simplest and most effective act of prevention is to avoid being bitten by a tick. This isn’t a very practical answer for many people who enjoy working and playing outdoors, and some occupations expose workers to ticks every day. Many Lyme sufferers are bitten in their own yard. But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. You can also download our brochure, Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Guide to keep with you as a handy guide.
Ticks are most plentiful in areas where woodlands transition into fields, meadows, or yards. Ticks are often found in tall grass, gardens, or mulch beds. Deer paths through the woods are often loaded with ticks. Leaf litter, woodpiles, and rock walls are also areas of high tick concentration. Where mice are present, ticks are usually abundant.
When you are in such outside areas, you need to be particularly vigilant. You should wear tick-repellent clothing, especially clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks. You may spray your own clothing with permethrin (good for six washings), or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for 70 washings) from a number of well-known clothing companies. EPA-approved insect repellent can also be applied to exposed skin for added protection. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks. Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and a hat are helpful. Walk in the center of woodland trails, and by all means avoid walking along deer paths.
After any time spent outdoors, check for ticks while you are out and as soon as you get back. Showering is also helpful in removing unattached ticks from your body. Remember that some ticks are extremely small and some almost impossible to see. Putting your clothing in a clothes dryer at high heat will kill ticks in about 30 minutes.
There are products that can be used outdoors to kill ticks. For example, Damminix consists of cotton balls soaked in permethrin insecticide inside cardboard tubes that are placed around property where mice may live (wood piles, stone walls, etc.). The cotton will be used by mice building their nests. The permethrin in the cotton kills the ticks on the mice with minimal danger to people, pets, or wildlife. Some communities are experimenting with deer feeders that apply insecticide to the deer as they eat. Tick traps are also commercially available. Some lawn care companies can spray your yard with an EPA-approved insecticide.
Use of chemicals on your skin, clothing, and property is a personal decision, and we do not make product recommendations in this regard.
Even if you rarely go outside, you can still become infected if your pets bring ticks into the house, and they crawl unknowingly onto you from them. Veterinarians recommend a product like Preventic collars, Frontline, and Top Spot to minimize the risk.
Some researchers think that Lyme and other TBDs can be spread by other biting insects such as mosquitoes, horseflies, deerflies, fleas, and lice. Although human infection has not yet been proven, these insects have been shown to carry Lyme and other TBD bacteria.
The following prevention summary is provided by BLAST! Lyme Prevention:
Follow the BLAST Safety Steps
B athe or shower soon after coming indoors
L ook for ticks and remove with tweezers
A pply repellents for skin and/or clothing
S pray the perimeter of your yard for ticks
T reat your pets