What do Jason Bourne from the book The Bourne Identity and tick-borne infections have in common? They can land you flat on your back very quickly. Unfortunately, tick-borne diseases aren’t Robert Ludlum fiction. Lyme disease, which ticks carrying the Borrelia bacteria transmit, can trigger symptoms such as a nasty rash, arthritis, and mental dysfunction.
This year, acarologists (people who study ticks and mites) are predicting a particularly intense tick bite season due to lack of acorns. Turns out when the acorn crop is down (it is), there are fewer of ticks’ favorite meal: white-footed mice. Without as many little rodents running around, the ticks cruise for a food substitute. That means you.
What’s a nature-loving, pet-hugging person to do? Here’s your basic, four-point plan to lower your risk of tick bites and Lyme disease:
Use insect repellant with DEET. The benefits of DEET far outweigh the risks — if there are any risks at all. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that young kids and pregnant women avoid the pesticide.) Try oil of lemon eucalyptus or PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol) — the synthesized version).
Cover up. Wear long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks when in grassy or wooded areas. Light-colored clothing helps you spot any hop-alongs.
Shower when you get home. Ticks don’t always bite immediately.
Check your pets. Ticks hidden in your pet’s fur and hair can easily infect you — and your pet
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