Spring is in full swing and you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Unfortunately, another creature is as well…the deer tick, best known as the carrier of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tickborne disease in Massachusetts. Almost four thousand cases were reported last year in the state. Diseases spread by ticks such as Lyme disease can become serious if not recognized and treated early. The only way to become infected with Lyme disease is through the bite of an infected deer tick.
Residents can protect themselves, their family and their pets by taking the following steps:
- The single most important thing is to check yourself for ticks once a day. Don’t forget to check children and pets too.
- Remove any attached tick you find with a fine point tweezers, grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight out with steady pressure.
- Stick to main pathways or the center of trails when hiking.
- Wear long-sleeved light colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
- You can use a tick repellent with no more than 30-35% DEET (10-15% for children). Never use insect repellents on infants.
- Place patio furniture, swing sets, etc. away from the wooded sections of your property
- Reduce the number of ticks around your backyard by:
- Keeping grass cut short
- Removing leaf litter and brush from around your home
- Pruning low-lying bushes to let in more sunlight
- Using plants around your home that do not attract deer
- Using deer fencing
- Keeping woodpiles and birdfeeders off the ground and away from your homeKeeping the plants around stone walls cut short
- If you chose to use a pesticide to reduce the number of ticks on your property, hire a licensed applicator experienced with tick control.
- Talk to your doctor is you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles.