Princeton, NJ, June 05, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the North America. Although it has been reported in 49 of the 50 U.S. states, it is most prevalent in the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferii, that on the East Coast is mainly carried by the Deer Tick. In some areas of New Jersey the Deer Tick population has been found to exceed 3 ticks per square yard. That works out to more than 10,000 ticks per acre.
With a good understanding of the life cycle of the Deer Tick and ways to reduce the percentage of ticks in your area that are carriers of the bacteria, you can dramatically reduce the risk of Lyme for your family.
Reducing your exposure to ticks is likely to be the easiest and most effective precaution
Wear a tick repellant on your clothing and footwear that contains DEET. The higher the level of DEET, the more effective it will be. We do Not recommend applying DEET to bare skin, especially for children. It may be absorbed through the skin and can be toxic.
Wear long pants whenever the weather permits and either tuck your pants into your footwear or socks or put a rubberband around the cuffs. Ticks usually are found a few inches above ground level and then try to climb upwards. Wearing light-colored clothing and keeping them away from skin as they climb will make it easier to see them before they attach.
You should also immediately put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes when you come inside. This will kill any ticks that may be hiding there
Do a careful tick checks whenever you come in from being in an area of potential exposure. First take a shower to wash off any ticks that are not attached. Then look for ticks that remain. They particularly like constricted areas, such as skin folds and under elastic clothing. Be sure to check behind the knees, under the arms, on the back, etc.
Removing ticks promptly is the single most effective step in preventing infection. It generally requires about 24 hours from the time it starts feeding for the bacteria in the tick’s gut to migrate to the salivary glands and then be injected into the wound. Finding and properly removing ticks in the first hours of feeding dramatically reduces the odds of becoming sick.
If you find a tick, it should be removed with very fine tipped tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Squeezing the body of the tick can cause immediate infection as it injects the bacteria-laden contents of the gut into the wound. You should also avoid anything that can cause the tick to constrict. Burning ticks with a match, dousing them with alcohol or other chemicals, or otherwise irritating the tick before it is out of the skin should be avoided.
When removing adult ticks it is common for some of the mouth parts to remain in the skin. If there appears to be a black spot in the skin at the site of the bite it can be removed with a fine needle as if it was a splinter.
Deer Ticks are generally found in brush at about 6-18 inches above the ground. Keeping your yard clear of unnecessary overgrowth can help to reduce the tick population. Ticks rapidly dehydrate and die with exposure to direct sunlight. So, keeping your grass short is also helpful.
Guinea hens are particularly voracious tick eaters. If your yard is conducive to keeping guinea hens, this will reduce the tick population.
Removing potential habitats for small rodents is also helpful in reducing not only the tick population but also the percentage of ticks that may be infected.
Permethrin is an insecticide that is very effective at killing ticks, particularly in the larval stage. It is considered safe for human exposure.
The most effective use of Permethrin is intended to reduce the exposure of ticks to the Lyme bacteria. Sold at many garden centers, Damminix Tick Tubes are cardboard tubes filled with cotton balls impregnated with Permethrin. Mice use the cotton as nesting material, coating their skin with the insecticide. This effectively keeps the ticks from feeding on the mice and picking up the Lyme bacteria. Effective treatment usually means putting tubes out in the Spring and Fall over an area of at least several acres.
Authored by Dr. David Fein
Princeton Longevity Center
Founder and Medical Director
Dr. Fein is a noted resource on topics including:
Executive Physicals, Preventive Medicine, Heart Attack Prevention, Cardiac CT and CT Angiography, and other health related topics specific to living longer.