We've come out of one of the heaviest tick seasons on record last year, according to the National Pest Management Association. Because our community features sprawling acres of trees and the area surrounding Lake Hopatcong, many residents spend a great deal of time enjoying the great outdoors—and those people are cautioned to take precautions against tick bites and the spread of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
“Whether hiking in the woods this fall to enjoy the peak leaf season, raking or simply taking the dog for a walk through the park, it’s crucial for people to take steps to protect themselves from ticks when outside,” said Bernard Holst Jr., of Horizon Pest Control in Midland Park. “Once you are back indoors, personal inspection is important because immature ticks are extremely small and hard to spot and hide easily on pets.”
The Centers for Disease Control warns that ticks can pass infections from host to the next host, including humans. They survive by eating blood from their hosts.
Experts at the NPMA recommend these seven tips to reduce the chance of being bitten by a tick:
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses. Choose light-colored clothing that makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
- Wear a bug spray containing at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin or
- IR3535 when outdoors and reapply as directed on the label.
- When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
- Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
- Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites, such as a telltale red bull's eye rash around a bite.
- Learn the symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, and consult with your doctor immediately if you believe you have contracted it.
If you find a tick in your home or suspect you have ticks on your property, contact an expert for an inspection. They will recommend a course of action to combat the pest.
A new NPMA survey found 62 percent of U.S. residents are using improper methods to remove ticks, increasing their chances of contracting a serious illness. The CDC advises that tick-borne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Common symptoms include fever and chills, aches and pains, and rash. See your doctor immediately if you believe you may have been bitten.
If a tick is found, remove it with a slow, steady pull. Then, wash your hands and the bite site thoroughly with soap and water. Ticks should be flushed down a toilet or wrapped in tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle.