FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — While many people take precautions to avoid Lyme disease-carrying ticks on adventures and hikes, a Danbury health expert said that ticks also hang out close to home — in your own backyard.
“They’re not likely to be out in open fields that have a lot of sunshine,” said Amber Butler, MPH, who is the lead research associate for Western Connecticut Health Network’s Lyme Disease Registry. “They really hang out if you have a rock wall or a pile of debris.”
Butler recommends that those who spend time outdoors— whether they are on a hike or in the backyard — take simple precautions such as showering within two hours of being outdoors.
“If there are ticks that are crawling on you, it helps wash those ticks away,” Butler said.
Butler also recommends that people look for ticks on the body, especially in warm and dark areas. If a person finds one on his or her body, use fine-tipped tweezers to remove them.
“You grab the tick as close to your body as you can and pull straight out,” Butler said. “Wash the area and pay attention for any rashes or other signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.”
Butler also recommends that people use repellents that contain DEET. While some people have concerns over using that product, it has been “demonstrated to be safe and effective,” she said.
For those looking for an alternative to DEET, Butler recommends clothing sprayed with permethrin. The product comes with a unique advantage over sprays that contain DEET, Butler said.
“What’s nice about permethrin is that DEET needs to be reapplied every couple hours just like sunscreen, but the permethrin is good through several washes,” Butler said.
Clothing that is impregnated with permethrin can sometimes last up to 70 washes, and it’s “a great option for people who are constantly wearing the same thing,” Butler said.
Butler also recommends spraying the yard for ticks and treating pets. While pets can’t infect you directly, they can bring potentially Lyme disease-infected ticks into the house, she said.
Lyme disease was first discovered in Connecticut in the 1970s. In 2015, the Connecticut Department of Health reported 2,553 cases with 430 cases in Fairfield County.
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