Summer begins the prevalent, yet preventable illness that is Lyme disease. Once the weather begins to warm, the threat of tick-borne illness escalates. Local tick expert and owner of East End Tick & Mosquito Control (www.tickcontrol.com), Brian Kelly, has offered up ten tips for East End residents to consider to help decrease the risk of contracting a tick-related illnesses.
Kelly is a strong believer that “prevention is better than a cure” and takes a proactive approach to tick safety.
“Each season is becoming progressively worse and it’s critical that people within our communities take the right steps to keep themselves and families safe when venturing out, as well as their properties,” he said. “A new year brings new concerns and the time is now.”
During the spring and early summer months, the transmission of Lyme disease is most commonly due to the bites of immature ticks called nymphs because they are less than 2 mm in size, comparable to a poppy seed. Thus, they are difficult to see and the bites are painless. In addition to their size, they typically attach to hard-to-see areas of the body such as the groin, armpits and scalp. Lyme disease is an acute inflammatory bacterial infection that has been nicknamed “The Great Imitator” because its symptoms are similar to that of many other diseases, affecting any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, joints and muscles, and heart.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 30,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in the United States each year but estimate almost 300,000 people are diagnosed annually. Studies show that 50 percent of ticks on the East End of Long Island are infected with the disease and that 70 percent of all people who are diagnosed with Lyme disease are bitten in their own yard.
Remember these tips when checks for ticks:
• Remember, ticks can be found anywhere. It’s important to use repellent when going outdoors and to check for ticks often.
• Keep pets confined to your landscaped lawn and never allow them to enter the woods or woods edge. If you stopped your pet’s tick preventive over the winter, get it started again now.
• Implement a professional rodent control program around your home to reduce the number of ticks on your property.
• Remind kids of the dangers of going into the woods and uncharted territory. Teach them how to check themselves, too.
• Keep a tick removal kit ready so you are well-prepared if you do come across an embedded tick.
• Keep your grass cut short and don’t over-water your plants and shrubs. Ticks are attracted to long grass and cool damp areas.
• Ivy and other sorts of ground cover are tick hot spots and should be avoided.
• As part of your spring yard clean-up, eliminate tick habitat by raking and removing leaves that may have blown into yard edges and under shady vegetation.
• Spray monthly from April through October to control ticks on your property.
If you find a tick and are concerned about what diseases it may carry, the University of Massachussets Amherst will accept the tick by mail and test it for a fee. By ordering a Tick Report, you can learn what disease-causing microbes the tick may be carrying, including pathogens that cause Lyme disease. Learn more at www.tickreport.com.