Tick Tips for Summer

May 24, 2016

Man in shorts On HikeAlthough pests are the biggest health threat in the headlines right now, don’t let ticks and mosquitoes spoil your summer fun.

Both mosquitoes and ticks can be fought off with bug spray, so that should be your number one weapon this summer. (Anecdotally, people are also saying that air conditioning (especially in the bedroom) helps keep Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits Zika and other tropical viruses, out!).

There’s also some work you can do to keep summer outings from leading to summer illness. After all, ticks are everywhere, and Lyme Disease (an newly found related diseases!) are in more than half of US counties. If you enjoy the great outdoors, the open spaces, hills, and beauty that’s around you, it’s just something you have to take time to prevent.

Humans pick up ticks two ways: walking through tall grass (even uncut lawns) and getting close to furry animals (even your own outside cat or dog!). Those both offer a lot of different ways for ticks to reach you, so you have to think a little creatively when you want to avoid them! Luckily, they don’t jump onto you or drop from the ceiling, so focusing on grass and other mammals can be very effective.

First, stay away from wildlife, both at home and out. Anything cute and fuzzy is a vector for ticks. People are already posting selfies with wild animals on social media. Not only could ticks be an issue, but with baby animals, there’s often a protective parent nearby.

At Home:

-Avoid tall grasses (decorative grasses can be okay if they’re potted or surrounded by wood chips/non-grass). Keep your lawn trimmed.

-Wood piles, rock piles, and other nooks and crannies can harbor mice and other small critters that are known for spreading ticks and pests around in the wild, don’t let them bring them right up to your door.

-Squirrels can carry ticks, too. Keep bird feeders (which draw them to your yard) out of reach.

-Since grass is it’s own risk, experts recommend putting a barrier between your yard and nature (like mulch or gravel or whatever matches).

On the Trail:

-Either stay in the center of the trail, away from wild grass, or make sure you’ve got long pants tucked into your hiking boots.

-Do a tick check before going inside (looking at your clothes) then again with a mirror. An unfed tick can be small, and blend in with all the lovely freckles you made while hiking. Movement is a giveaway.

-Don’t forget to check pets. Not only can they bring ticks to you, they can get sick, too, and it can be hard to diagnose since they don’t complain. In addition to giving them a once over for ticks, add a few drops of immune support to their bowls with colloidal silver.

Removing Ticks:

-Ignore the old wives tale about burning them, that could lead to a quicker release of bacteria and faster infection. Using magnifying glass and tweezers, slowly pull it straight out. Or have your doctor’s office do it (in any case, you should save any ticks you find for the doctor or vet to test in case symptoms of fatigue or joint pain develop).

-A bullseye rash is a smoking gun for Lyme Disease, but MOST cases won’t have one! Symptoms of fatigue, headache, joint pain, etc. can indicate Lyme Disease (or it’s related diseases)—saving any ticks you find can help you get a diagnosis (many doctors aren’t used to seeing Lyme Disease, or possibly aren’t aware it’s in their area).

-Keep your immune system strong. Lyme Disease (like most things) hits harder if you have a weakened immune system already. Make sure that you get enough food, rest, and water when you’re hiking/camping, and really, all summer long, don’t let being stressed or busy put good care in the back seat. Then give yourself some extra support with colloidal silver.

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