May, appropriately, is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. When the weather turns nice, Minnesotans aren’t the only ones who emerge from hiding. Ticks come out, too, looking for their next meal. Most of the time, ticks are just nuisance pests, but the bites of some species can cause serious illnesses.
Follow these reminders to help prevent Lyme Disease and other tick-transmitted diseases:
- Highest risk for tick-transmitted diseases generally is mid-May through mid-July but can stretch longer into the summer.
- Wear tick repellant containing permethrin on clothing. Other effective repellents include products containing up to 30 percent DEET (diethyltolumide).
- Walk in the center of the trail to avoid picking up ticks from grass and brush.
- Wear light-colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tucking your pants into the tops of your socks or boots creates a “tick barrier.” Light-colored clothing makes it easier to see ticks.
- Check for ticks frequently and remove them promptly. Remember to check the hairline and behind the ears and points of clothing constriction (behind knees, waist line, arm pits, etc.).
- Remove by using a tweezers to grasp the tick by the head close to the skin and pulling the tick outward slowly and steadily. Do not squeeze the tick. Use an antiseptic on the bite site after removal.
- If you live near the woods or in an area with ticks, maintain your property: keep your lawn mowed short, remove leaves and clear the brush around your house and at the edges of the yard, keep children’s playsets or swing-sets in a sunny and dry area of the yard, and make a landscape barrier (such as a 3-foot-wide border of wood chips) between your lawn and the woods.
- Topical tick repellants are available for dogs and cats, and a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease is available for dogs. Check with your veterinarian to determine the best option.
- Check dogs or cats for ticks before allowing them inside. For more information about tick-transmitted diseases, visit the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information about insect repellents and children, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Children website.