Visitors guide to a tick-free summer

By Paula Jackson Jones | Jul 15, 2017

The 4th of July holiday brings back many of our seasonal residents and many more visitors to our wonderful state and Midcoast Lyme Disease Support and Education wants to make sure that you enjoy your stay and partake of all the outdoor activities that Maine offers.

This weekly column is to remind you of the simple solutions that you can do to enjoy your summer and remain tick-free!

Prevention practices

Skin, Clothing, Pets, Home and Yard are all important areas to focus on as these are areas ticks come into contact with us. What you chose to put on your skin is a personal preference whether its Deet, Picaridin, essential oils or other natural repellent balms and salves, there is no wrong answer. But there are some products safer than others (for children and pets) so carefully consider before purchasing.

Wearing white clothing and tucking shirt into pants, pants into socks does not repel ticks, it only makes them easier to find. You want to repel and you have options! Permethrin, a product derived from the chrysanthemum plant that kills ticks on contact, is FDA approved in over 2,500 products and used by the military on their uniforms and gear. You can purchase this at the local hardware stores and do it yourself or, for those with health or environmental concerns, you can purchase clothing already infused with a heavy concentration such as tops, pants, vests, socks, hats, gloves and blankets. You can also send your clothing off and have them infused with a heavier concentrated application (email me for more information).

Visitors, did you know that you can connect with a local vet and have your pet protected while you’re here on vacation? Local vets can connect with your vet back home and get an instant health history and be able to prescribe the best product based on the age, breed and overall health condition of your pet.

Cleaning cabins and cottages with products containing lemongrass and eucalyptus creates a safe and natural deterrent for ticks. There are also safe and natural products to use on the outside such as Diatomaceous Earth to repel ticks. For higher infested areas, consider contacting a service provider who uses organic repellent sprays. Remember, we want our visitors to enjoy their stay tick-free!

And as always, when you come in from spending time outdoors — Do your tick checks!

What is a tick check?

It’s a process of looking over your body top to bottom for nymph and adult ticks that you may have unknowingly brought inside with you. Ticks crawl from the ground up looking for the perfect place to feed upon and they thrive on moist, dark areas. The best way to do a tick check is to remove your clothing, toss in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes and then check the following areas: Under the arms, in/around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in your hair, between the legs/groin area and around your waistline. Nymph ticks are no larger than a poppy seed and are often missed. Use a mirror for hard to see places. You can also shower using products containing rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree oil that repels and washes out any ticks you may have missed while checking your hair (Remember: tea tree oil is not safe for pets).

As always, if you do have a tick encounter, save the tick and have it tested so that you will know for certain if/what you have been exposed to. By using prevention practices and doing daily tick checks, you are taking charge and reducing your chances of being exposed to a tick — and can enjoy outdoor life in Maine as it should it be!

Paula Jackson Jones is President of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education, a nonprofit 501c3 and Maine-partner of the Natl Lyme Disease Assoc and member of Maine CDC Vector-borne Workgroup. You can reach her at paula@mldse.org or visit their website www.mldse.org.

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