Magazine article USA TODAY

Summer Is the Time to Prevent Lyme Disease

Magazine article USA TODAY

Summer Is the Time to Prevent Lyme Disease

Article excerpt

Before gardening, camping, hiking, or just playing outdoors, make tick bite prevention part of your outdoor plans, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga. Lyme disease is the most commonly occurring vector-borne disease in the U.S. An estimated 300,000 infections occur each year, of which only 30,000 are reported to the CDC by state health departments.

The risk is greatest among those living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest. A national survey found that nearly 20% of people in areas where Lyme disease is common were unaware of the danger. However, there are several tactics to prevent these bites and reduce the risk of tickborne disease:

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation, such as leaf litter or shrubs. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and stay away from tall vegetation. Though Lyme disease cases occur in nearly every state, cases are reported from the infected person's county of residence, not the place where they were infected.

Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Repellents containing 20% or more DEET can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply repellents to their children, taking care to avoid application to hands, eyes, and mouth. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Treated items can remain protective through several washings.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Use a handheld or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. …

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