The media – for once – is really blowing the Lyme horn and warning people of the potential danger of tick bites and Lyme disease.
There is still a long way to go towards educating people about the appropriate response to tick bites and the extreme vigilance that need to be taken at all times, but this year due to the warm winter and the growing number of political activists we are actually hearing about Lyme disease on the news, and its on a pretty regular basis!Lest you think me above the fearful fray due to living in the frozen tundra of Maine…well, even Maine had (for Maine) a warm winter. And lest you think me unsympathetic to the real fear of having a tick attach in a matter of seconds less than a yard from my home let me share with you my traumatic moment from my daring spontaneous venture out of the house into the wilds of my front porch.
As other Lymies will understand, we have good days, better days and terrible days on the way down and on the way back up to recovery. So even though I am so much better than I have been in years, I still have bad days and Saturday was one of them.
However, when my honey asked me to sit with him on the porch, the temp was a steady 72 degrees with a warm breeze and big puffy clouds in the sky…one of a couple dozen perfect days we get weather-wise in Maine (that is why we all have such amazing charact-ah!)
As we sat and talked about the two dozen rose bushes we planted last summer (I was too sick to plant anything the summer before that), Scott mentioned we might have lost one rose bush over the winter.
I jumped off the porch and quickly pushed the mulch away from the base of the rose where I had protected the root joint to see if I could find green and YES! It was alive! I was so excited! I felt a little tickle on my arm and glanced at it as I was talking gleefully to Scott until I saw what was tickling my arm! Now this whole process took between one and two minutes, and the deer tick was seconds away from attaching (at first I thought it had) but the skin was not broken there was a slight bit of raised skin where it was about to lock on, and it was pushing head first into my arm so that I really had to get a hold of it – the red mark lasted all night but was gone in the morning.
So, in the past I have told people to always cover yourself in bug dope when you plan to spend time outdoors. I think it is fair to adjust that plea to dowse all of your everyday clothing in Sawyers Tick Protection and yourself with 100% Deet (use sparingly), and your animals with Frontline (or if you use Advantix, make sure you get 4 in One -NOT 3 in One) and Tick Tags (I am going to try that on my horses this year also – a tag on each fly boot), we need to think of protection every time we walk out the door.
Then think of the people you know who don’t have Lyme disease – it is up to us to help them understand how important it is to avoid the disease instead of having to worry about how to cure it!
John Mitchell, the founder of Backyard Bug Patrol, recently wrote me the following to share with my readers:
Six Simple Tips to Safeguard Against Lyme Disease
Protect Your Family from Deer Ticks and Other Dangerous Backyard Pests
Lyme Disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by deer ticks, is the most common bug- or animal-borne illness in the United States today. Cases of Lyme Disease have more than doubled in the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Sometimes dubbed the “Great Imitator”, Lyme Disease comprises symptoms that closely resemble those of many other diseases, including Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. While imminently treatable in the early stages of detection, Lyme Disease can cause blindness and even death in some individuals, and chronic Lyme Disease symptoms can last for years.
Most of us, at one time or another, have pulled adult ticks off of our dog or the kids after spending the day outside. Did you know, however, that up to 90% of instances of Lyme Disease are caused by the nymph tick, which is the size of a tip of a pen? These ticks are so small that they’re almost impossible to spot in your hair or on your pet. That’s why, when it comes to Lyme Disease, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Below are a few basic tips to tick-proof your yard and protect your family from this potentially deadly illness.
- Keep it neat. Ticks don’t like to be out in the open; keep your grass closely mowed at all times.
- Maintain separation.Ticks generally hang out in the “fringe areas” of your yard – those spots between the grass and any peripheral woods or bushes. Create a three-foot wide transition zone of wood chips or gravel between these areas and your yard. Place your lawn furniture and children’s swing sets out in the open in full sun; don’t locate them in the fringe areas.
- Bag your leaves. Fall leaves are beautiful while on the trees, but they become a perfect home for ticks once on the ground. Bag leaves and dispose of them promptly, and NEVER let your kids jump in leaf piles. Make sure to cover yourself from head to toe while raking the leaves, and change your clothes in the garage or in the laundry room; you don’t want those pests hitching a ride into your house.
- Keep the deer at bay. Lyme Disease is transmitted by deer ticks, which, not surprisingly, live on deer (as well as on squirrels and birds). Each deer harbors up to 1000 ticks, and female ticks can lay up to 18,000 eggs. The result? Thousands of ticks infesting your yard. According to the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Extension Service, deer do not like strong smelling herbs. So if you have a green thumb, plant deer-repelling herbs such as anise, catnip, sage, horseradish, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, oregano and rosemary in your garden.
- Watch for rodents. Rodents, particularly the white footed mouse, are known tick carriers; in fact, at one stage in the deer tick’s lifecycle, it actually lives with white footed mice. Firewood and other debris are ideal rodent hiding places, so stack your firewood neatly, and keep your yard free of debris.
- Call in the experts. Hire a qualified pest control professional who specializes in the eradication of ticks – and make sure they clarify that they are tick removal experts. Generally, these professionals will come to your property and spray the areas where ticks reside, killing them on contact and establishing a preventative barrier.
Another thing that you can do for your yard, neighborhood and/or county is to implement a program of using Tick Tubes around homes and Deer Feeder Bait Stations in less populated areas. Slowly but surely civic minded people are banding together thinking of the future of our children and grandchildren. of exposure to Lyme disease.
The Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association didn’t take on the whole island, but they made a commitment in their association to use Damminix Tick Tubes every year and record the incidence of Lyme disease. Over 13 years they have experienced a ten-fold reduction of risk. Now that number would be much higher if it cover a greater area due to the wide migrating patterns of deer in fact it is remarkable, and according to the association, their program cost is one of the lowest in the country.