Summer is weeks away, and as residents of Long Island prepare for the busy season and warmer days ahead, it’s also time to prepare for tick season and May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Scientists are predicting a bad year for ticks and doctors believe that COVID-19 could lead to an increase in tick-borne illness because we’ve been stuck indoors all winter and are itching to spend time outdoors.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the United States, but an estimated 300,000 people are diagnosed annually. Studies show that 20 to 50 percent of the ticks on the East End of Long Island are infected with Lyme disease and 70 percent of all people who are diagnosed are bitten in their own yard! I’ve put together a list of tips for Long Islanders to consider when venturing outdoors to help limit the risk of contracting a tick-related illness.
1). Have your property sprayed for ticks monthly between the months of April through November to control ticks on your property. Spraying for ticks will greatly reduce the tick population on your property but controlling ticks 100 percent is next to impossible.
2). Ticks encounters are happening just about everywhere! Always use a repellent when going outdoors and ALWAYS check yourself afterwards. Pro tip: Have someone else check your back and areas you can’t see.
3). Put a fence around your yard to help keep deer and other animals out of your yard.
4). Keep your pets confined to your landscaped lawn and never allow them to enter the woods and use a tick repellent recommended by your veterinary. If you travel with your pet, make sure you check them VERY carefully afterwards.
5). Teach your kids about the dangers of going into the woods and uncharted territory. Get them into the routine of checking themselves after being outdoors and ALWAYS check them yourselves.
6). The Tick Borne Disease Resource Center at Southampton Hospital offers free tick removal kits. Pick one up, learn how to properly remove a tick and keep it handy at all times.
7). Keep your grass cut short and don’t over-water your plants and shrubs! Ticks are attracted to long grass and cool damp areas.
8). Ivy and other sorts of ground cover are tick hot spots, avoid them at all times.
9). As part of your spring yard clean-up, eliminate tick habitat by raking and removing leaves that have blown into your yard edges and under shady vegetation.
10). Perform tick checks twice a day, once at night and then again the following morning.
11). Tuck your pants into your socks and spray both your skin and clothing with repellent before going outdoors.
12). When coming in from the outdoors, put your clothes in the dryer and on a high heat for at least 15 minutes.
If you believe you were bitten by a tick, keep an eye out for early stages of Lyme disease. Early stages of Lyme disease can include a “bull’s eye” but the appearance of a rash may occur less than 50% percent of the time in Lyme disease. Ticks can transmit more than one disease to humans, which can result in co-infections with Lyme disease that may include babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.
Signs and symptoms can occur three to 30 days after a tick bite and can include flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint paint and swollen glands. If a rash does appear, it may not always have a classic “bull’s eye” and can appear as a bruise in darker skin individuals. If Lyme disease is missed, later signs and symptoms can occur weeks to months after a tick bite, these symptoms can include but as not limited to headaches, neck stiffness, arthritis pain with swelling of a knee or other large joints, heart palpitations, and debilitating fatigue.
Prevention is better than a cure and you should take a proactive approach to tick safety. The risk of contracting a tick borne illness, such a Lyme disease becomes progressively worse year after year. Get yourself and your family into the habit of practicing tick safety, and if you find a tick on yourself or a family member, and experience any symptoms, contact a physician immediately!
If you’re looking for a tick control company for your property, call East End Tick Control at 631-287-9700 or visit their website at tickcontrol.com and get a free estimate today!