6 Steps To A Tick-Free Summer

The Northeast and Midwest are the epicenters for Lyme disease, but cases have been confirmed in nearly every state in the Union—to the tune of around 300,000 new infections per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Easily treated with antibiotics in its early stages, the disease often goes undiagnosed because medical personnel, especially outside the hotspots, aren't trained to look for it. The result is often devastating, long-term health problems that show up years later.

Clearly the best way to avoid this torment is to prevent the ticks that carry the disease from latching onto your hide. Here are 6 tips from the CDC.

  1. Use insect repellents that contain 20% to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  2. Treat clothing and gear (boots, pants, socks, tents) with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
  3. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after returning indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks.
  4. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  5. Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  6. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

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