Preventing Lyme Disease

Tick bite prevention, removal and treatment

Prevention

Clothing

  • Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts, so you can spot ticks easily.
  • Tuck the legs of your pants into your socks.
  • Avoid sandals, flip flops and open toed shoes.
  • Do not leave dirty clothing in the laundry hamper. Bag the clothing then wash and dry it as soon as possible. Ticks may live through the wash cycle, but will die in the dryer cycle only if it runs over 30 minutes and your clothing is bone dry. For dry clothes, 10 minutes on dry will kill ticks.

Repellants

  • Use insect repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on skin. Not for use on children under 3. Read and follow directions. https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/DEET
  • Use Permethrin on clothing only. You can spray it on your pants and shoes, but hang it in the garage overnight before using. You can buy permethrin embedded clothing that will last through several wash cycles.
  • Many of us do not like repellants. Other options that may be helpful are: http://www.consumerreports.org/products/insect-repellent/ratings-overview/ Please note, the higher the score, the better. Non-chemical approaches are not nearly as effective in this study.
  • Repellents need to be reapplied.

High Exposure Areas

  • Avoid areas that are highly endemic. If this is your home, make it as safe as possible: Keep your yard free of brush, keep grass mowed low, remove leaf litter.
  • Check yourself, your spouse your children for ticks daily. Do a full-body tick check: Check all over including hair, eyebrows, skin creases, ears and make sure someone checks your back.
  • After hiking, do a full-body tick check; then shower. Wash and dry your clothes as soon as possible.
  • When hiking, stay in the middle of the trail and avoid brush and grassy areas. Avoid sitting on rock walls, sitting on logs; leaning against trees. Avoid camping in shrubby shady areas.
  • Be aware that you can bring ticks inside the home with your firewood.
  • Low exposure areas may not be safe. Ticks ride on migratory birds, and can be found in big cities, and wherever you see birds. Washing clothing in a shared machine, and not using the dryer, can pick up ticks.

Pets

  • Pets may bring ticks in the house, and the ticks may find you. Check your pet daily.
  • Vaccines do not keep dogs from bringing ticks inside the house.
  • Tick collars may help your pets but the animal will still carry the ticks inside the house where they will drop off in search of those who are not wearing collars.
  • Indoor / outdoor pets should be checked for ticks, and brushed daily.
  • Your pets should not sleep in your bed. Your room should be off limits to pets that are allowed outdoors.
  • If your animal is ill, or acting strangely, take it to your vet, and have it checked for Lyme disease. Be aware that pets can get the same co-infections that we get: Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma.

Deer

  • Grow browse resistant plants.
  • 4-poster bait station applies acaricide to their heads.
  • Fence in your garden.
  • Do not feed deer: they can carry 100’s of ticks. Do not encourage deer onto your property.

Rodents

  • Mice can carry ticks inside your home.
  • Avoid attracting mice by not having birdfeeders in spring or summer, by not leaving cooked foods, meat or fish in your compost heap.
  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Store garbage in strong bags in sturdy rubbish bins.
  • Seal access areas including your garage and keep it free of rubbish and nesting materials.
  • Mouse bait boxes.
  • Look online for instructions on using permethrin embedded cotton in small containers that your neighbourhood mice will use as nesting material, and will subsequently kill ticks.

Treatment

Tick Removal

  • DO NOT AGGRAVATE THE ATTACHED TICK with petroleum jelly or a hot match tip as this can cause the tick to regurgitate stomach contents (into you) increasing your exposure to the microbes it is carrying.
  • Remove it carefully with fine-pointed tweezers from the attachment site, grasping the hypostome mouth parts.
  • Be sure to approach the tick from the side, otherwise, the hypostome will be damaged, and removal of the hypostome will likely fail.
  • Once the tick is removed, do not "pop” it between your fingers as you can spread infection.
  • Save the tick for identification- do not kill it. Put it in a small bottle with a damp piece of cotton.
  • Try not to touch the tick, if you do, wash your hands.

Testing for Infections

Available options:

  • Mail the tick to IGeneX or, in Canada, to IDEXX Laboratory via your vet, for Lyme and co-infection testing. You do not need a doctor's order to do this. Contact Igenex lab for the test kits/ mailing instructions www.igenex.com.
  • If the tick is being tested for Borrelia (Lyme) but not the co-infections (Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, Q fever, RMSF), a negative test means no Borrelia-Lyme, it does not mean you cannot acquire other infections from that tick. If you develop symptoms you need to be seen and treated, despite the negative tick study.
  • Another option is https://www.tickreport.com/
  • Free testing for U.S. residents: https://www.lymedisease.org/balf-tick-testing-nationwide/
  • If the tick tests negative, but you develop symptoms, be aware that there may be other infections, not tested which were transmitted. See your doctor.
  • The National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg tests for: Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Babesia microti. However, Bartonella henselae and Babesia duncani are not tested.

Tick Bite Treatment

  • If you are in a Lyme endemic area, see your doctor for immediate treatment.
  • Do not wait for symptoms. Less than 50% develop a rash; do not wait for a rash.
  • If you have a bull’s-eye rash, do not wait for testing. The rash itself is diagnostic of an acute Lyme infection. Get treatment as soon as you can.
  • See: http://www.ilads.org/lyme/what-to-do-if-bit-by-tick.php for treatment, which should be for a minimum of 21 days.