Cotati, CA. April 28,2023 - As Lyme Disease Awareness Month approaches, it is important to remember the potential risks of Lyme disease and how to prevent this debilitating disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Ixodes pacificus tick, commonly known as the western black-legged tick. Lyme disease symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash, and if left untreated, can cause serious complications.
In order to prevent Lyme disease, individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to ticks. This includes wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time outdoors, using insect repellent that contains an EPA-registered active ingredient such as DEET, and checking for ticks on the body and clothes after being outdoors.
Additionally, it is important to keep yards and outdoor spaces well-maintained by removing leaf litter and tall grass and creating barriers such as wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas. Tick-bite prevention is also imperative when it comes to your pets. They, too, can contract tick-borne diseases. Consult your veterinarian to discuss the best preventative measures for your animal.
"It is important to be aware of the potential risks of Lyme disease, especially this time of year when nymphal ticks are most active,” stated Dr. Kelly Liebman, Scientific Programs Manager with the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District. "Nymphal ticks are the size of a poppy seed and can be difficult to spot on the body. By taking simple preventative measures, such as using insect repellent and checking for ticks, you can reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease."
Personal protection measures to be taken prior to, during, and after being in tick habitat include:
- Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants.
- Clothing and equipment can be pre-treated with a permethrin product to kill ticks. Always follow the label instructions when using permethrin – it should NOT be applied to your skin.
- Apply an EPA-registered repellent that is effective against ticks, such as DEET (at least 20% concentration), picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or para-menthane-diol (PMD). Always follow label directions.
- After coming indoors, remove your clothing and place in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks crawling on clothes.
- Shower after being in tick habitat to detect ticks.
- Remove ticks promptly by using tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, then pull straight out.
- Contact your physician if you have concerns or become ill after being bitten by a tick.
To learn more about ticks and tick-bite prevention visit our website: www.msmosquito.org/tick-bite-prevention