Next time you go roaming the great outdoors, be sure to follow these simple tips for keeping tick-borne sicknesses at bay:
Avoid Enemy Territory
Ticks tend to dwell in moist, humid environments like leafy and grassy areas. Piles of leaves, wood or mulch, plant shoots, shrubs and weeds are all potential breeding grounds. Always walk in the center of trails to reduce your chance of coming into contact with ticks. If you have a back yard, consider protecting the lawn from surrounding wooded areas with a border of gravel or wood chips to limit tick migration.
Revolt and Repel
Tick repellents provide a valuable extra layer of protection. Do a little research to determine what kind of product is right for you and your pet and use it! If you’re concerned about the chemicals in most products, there are a number of natural alternatives and other products available.
Stick It to Ticks
Keep a lint roller in your car to use on your clothes after spending time in wooded areas. That way, you can pick up any unattached ticks before you carry them into the car or house. Depending on your dog’s coat, you can even give him or her a once-over, too. Don’t wait until you get home and ticks have had time to attach.
Get the Right Tools for the Job
If you do happen to carry an attached tick home, skip the tweezers and try using tick removal tools such as the Tick Twister, Tick Stick or Tick Key. Removing these little buggers can be tricky, so using a tool specifically designed to help will make the process as pain-free as possible.
X Marks the Spot
If you do find an attached tick on you or your pet, remove it carefully, wipe the bite with an antiseptic, and (if you’ve been bitten), circle the bite with a permanent marker. This will help you monitor the bite site for any abnormal reactions. If a rounded or “bulls eye” rash, or any other skin irritation develops in the area, report it to your doctor or vet.
Ticks, mosquitoes and other bugs are a fact of life, but they don’t have to keep you and your pets indoors until winter. Take the time to make a few simple preparations to give you a leg up on pesky parasites, and go out and enjoy these final weeks of lingering daylight and evening breezes.
While the discovery of the Heartland virus proves that there is still a lot we don’t know about insect-borne illnesses, it serves as a timely reminder that an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.