Submitted by the Bedford Board of Health
Ticks are found in Bedford due to the natural presence of deer, white-footed mice and environmental conditions that promote their perfect habitat. Ticks are tiny bugs most likely found in brushy, wooded, or high grassy areas. Many residents of Bedford are familiar with these pests and they may even be in your own backyard! Deer ticks can bite you and spread diseases like Lyme disease. The best method for preventing tick borne illness is to prevent getting bitten.
Use Repellent and Check for Ticks
Prevention begins with you, so remember the following before and after you are outside in an area likely to have ticks:
Wear a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt with long pants and tuck your pants into your socks.
Repellents that contain DEET can be used on your exposed skin. Permethrin is a product that can be used on your clothes. Always follow the product instructions and use repellents with no more than 30% DEET on children. Never use DEET repellents on infants.
After coming inside, check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Put clothes in dryer on high heat for 20 minutes to kill any ticks that may be in or on your clothes.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Use a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure.
Talk to your doctor if you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles.
UMass Laboratory of Medical Zoology offers tick testing services for a fee. You can submit a tick that has bitten you for laboratory analysis of the pathogens that cause common tick borne illnesses. Contact UMass at www.tickreport.com for testing services.
Tick Diseases in Bedford
During 2014 and the first six months of 2015, Bedford was a partner in a grant that provided free tick testing for just over 100 Bedford residents. The pathogens that cause Lyme Disease were detected in about a third of the ticks submitted for analysis. Additionally, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reports that during that same time period, 71 Bedford residents were identified to have suspect or confirmed tick-borne illness.
The best way to prevent disease is to prevent getting bitten by avoiding tick habitats, using repellent when going into tick environments and doing a tick check when you return home. You can also landscape your yard to make it less hospitable to ticks or install barriers to prevent deer from entering. There are also tick reduction pesticides that can be applied to the perimeter of yard to reduce tick populations. These pesticides should be applied in accordance with label instructions or consult with a licensed pesticide applicator.
For further information on preventing tick bites and diseases spread by ticks, such as Lyme Disease, as well as managing ticks at your home, please view the Board of Health website at www.bedfordma.gov/health or call us at 781-275-6507.