While not all ticks carry the same diseases, at least one variety of disease-transmitting tick can be found in every state. Lyme disease is the most common. The CDC estimates that about 300,000 Americans develop Lyme each year, and we could see even more this year.
One theory is that warmer weather, longer seasons means that there is a longer period of time for ticks to be active. Another theory is that the spread of ticks’ hosts, so mainly deer, is getting bigger. They are in more places, which means ticks are in more places, which means that we have a great chance of running across them.
The best way avoid a tick-borne infection is not to get bitten in the first place by always using an effective insect repellent. Consumer Reports extensive testing of insect repellents found products that contain between 15 and 30-percent DEET are best at repelling ticks, along with products with 20-percent Picaridin or 30-percent Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
To make your yard less attractive to ticks, CR says to keep your lawn mowed, remove leaves and other debris, and try to let as much sun into your yard as possible. A border of wood chips or bark-style mulch around your property can also help create a barrier to keep ticks from entering.
When you’re in wooded areas you want to make sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, closed toes shoes, and it’s a good idea to tuck your pants into your socks. And if you do find a tick, use tweezers to gently remove the whole body, including the head. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. For extra protection, after you come back inside, toss your clothes into a clothes dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill ticks that might still be hanging on. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
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