Protect your family from tick bites and Lyme disease

Become a backyard boss! Here's what to look for:

More than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported each year, making it the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make sure your family isn’t part of that number.

As the warmer months coax us outside, reducing the risk of tick bites is essential to protecting your family from Lyme disease and its potential long-term, devastating effects. 

Lyme disease can cause facial or Bell’s palsy, severe headaches, neck stiffness, heart palpitations, and pain and swelling in large joints. However, it’s difficult to diagnose, as symptoms can be attributed to other health problems. Left untreated, approximately 60 percent of Lyme disease sufferers experience arthritis, while five percent develop chronic neurological challenges months or years after the infection. 
“Had I understood the potential severity of Lyme disease and taken the threat seriously, I might have saved my children from years of suffering,” says Jennifer Reid, a mother of two children affected by Lyme disease and Community Coordinator for the BLAST Lyme Disease Prevention Program. “Prevention is possible.” 

BLAST is a helpful acronym representing basic tick bite prevention measures -- Bathe, Look for ticks, Apply repellants, Spray the yard and Treat your pets. Additionally, Reid recommends taking these simple steps:

For People 
• Avoid wooded and busy areas with high grass and leaf litter. 
• Apply repellent to exposed skin and clothing before outdoor activities. 
• Bathe or shower right after spending time outdoors and conduct a full-body tick check. Use a mirror to see hard to reach places such as the under arms, belly button, scalp, and behind the knees. 
For Pets 
• Check pets for ticks daily and remove them as soon as possible. 
• Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventatives on your pet. 
• Watch pets closely for changes in behavior or appetite. This may indicate Lyme disease infection.

In Your Yard 
• Place a wood chip or gravel barrier between your lawn, patio, and play equipment and any wooded areas. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas. 
• Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked. 
• Keep playground equipment and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in sunny locations, if possible. 
• Pest control products can help protect your family from tick bites, according to RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), a national trade association. On a seasonal basis, consult a professional to spray the perimeter. 
Get more tips to become a “backyard boss” and protect your family against hidden lawn and landscape risks by visiting Debug the Myths. This season, take charge of your backyard and learn how to protect your family.

Article provided by State Point