Picking up Leaves Around Your Home? Late-Season Ticks Might be Lurking!

Leaf litter – Image (c) JMcCT, 2018 all rights reserved

By Heidi Porter, Director, Bedford Board of Health

Although it’s getting colder and the leaves are falling, it is still important to be thinking about preventing tick bites during this time of year when putting your yard and lawn to bed for the winter season. The Bedford Board of Health wants to remind you that you don’t have to be walking in the woods to be bitten by a deer tick; it can happen around your own home! It is important to know that deer ticks can live where grassy yards border wooded areas, ornamental plantings, and gardens, or anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity. While removing leaf litter from around your home is a good way to remove or reduce conditions that allow ticks to survive in your yard, you can be exposed to deer ticks while doing this seasonal activity. Deer ticks in Bedford can carry the tick-borne diseases that are prevalent in our area, including Lyme, Anaplasmosis (Ehrlichiosis), and Babesiosis. These diseases, if transmitted from the tick to a human via a tick bite, can seriously impact an individual’s health and lifestyle.

Before heading out to rake leaves or remove brush this fall, make sure you follow these tips to reduce your exposure to deer ticks that may carry disease:

  • 1) Keep in mind that ticks start low and crawl up; they do not jump, fly or drop from trees; they are down on the ground and crawl up until they find a good spot to attach. Tucking pant legs into socks is a good way to keep ticks on the outside of your clothing where they may be seen or get brushed off;
  • 2) Tick Repellents that contain DEET can be used on your exposed skin to prevent a tick from latching on.

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; and, 3) Ticks can attach anywhere and in particular, they will find spots like the back of your knee, around waistbands, under armpits or any other constricted place. After raking or any time after you have been in tick habitat you should thoroughly check your entire body and remove attached ticks immediately. Once attached, ticks do not wash off in the shower but the shower is a good place to do a tick check!

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. For more information on tick bite prevention, you can contact the Bedford Board of Health at 781-275-6507, click on the tick information tab under programs and permits on www.bedfordma.gov/health or view the following video: www.Tinyurl.com/tickbiteprevention.

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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