Studies show that 20-50% of the ticks on the East End of Long Island are infected with Lyme disease and 70% of all people who are diagnosed are bitten in their own yard. May brings warm weather and sunshine, but with warm weather comes the return of ticks. The month of May is dedicated to spreading awareness of the prevalent, yet preventable illness, Lyme disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the United States, but an estimated 300,000 people are diagnosed annually. Most people don’t know, Nymph ticks, most active in the spring, can infect you with Lyme disease. Most people mistaken these tiny creatures for chiggers, but there are no chiggers north of the Mason-Dixon line. Nymph ticks are the most likely to transmit the infection and are comparable to a poppy seed, which makes them very hard to see. This past winter was very mild, therefore ticks are already out and looking for a meal and this year, COVID-19 is another threat to consider. We don’t want any co-infections with Lyme disease and COVID-19.
With these facts and statistics in mind, Brian Kelly, local tick expert and owner of East End Tick & Mosquito Control shared a list of tips for East End residents to consider when venturing outdoors to limit the risk of contracting a tick-related illness during the warmer months.
1). Spray monthly between the months of April – November to control ticks on your property.
2). Ticks are everywhere! Always use a repellent when going outdoors and get into the habit of checking yourself afterwards. Avoid shady areas, tall grass, brush, shrubs and stay away from the woods and other properties/gardens.
3). Put a fence around your yard to help keep deer and other animals out of your yard.
4). Keep your pets confined to your landscaped lawn and never allow them to enter the woods and use a tick repellent such as Frontline. If you travel with your pet, make sure you check them afterwards. Consider installing an Invisible Fence, which will limit the areas your dog can roam.
5). Teach your kids about the dangers of going into the woods and uncharted territory. Get them into the routine of checking themselves after being outdoors and don’t forget to check them yourselves.
6). Free tick removal available at Stony Book Southampton Hospital donated by East End Tick & Mosquito Control
7). Keep your grass cut short and don’t over-water your plants and shrubs. Ticks are attracted to long grass and cool damp areas.
8). Ivy and other sorts of ground cover are tick hot spots, avoid them at all times.
9). As part of your spring yard clean-up, eliminate tick habitat by raking and removing leaves that have blown into your yard edges and under shady vegetation.
10). Perform tick checks twice a day, once at night and then again the following morning.
11). Tuck your pants into your socks and spray both your skin and clothing with repellent before going outdoors.
12). When coming in from the outdoors, put your clothes in the dryer and on a high heat for at least 15 minutes.
13). Wear light-colored clothing and check clothes and exposed skin frequently after being outdoors.
14). Keep long hair pulled back, especially when gardening.
Brian Kelly always tells his customers that “prevention is better than a cure” and takes a proactive approach to tick safety. “The risk of contracting a tick borne illness, such as Lyme disease becomes increasingly worse year after year. Ticks are not practicing “social distancing” and we don’t want any co-infections with COVID-19 being an additional threat this year.. Have your yard sprayed now to prevent ticks from entering your property and get into the habit of following these tips on a regular basis.”
If you believe you were bitten by a tick, keep an eye out for early stages of Lyme disease. Early stages of Lyme disease can include a “bull’s eye” like rash for up to 60% of Lyme cases but the remainder show no rash at all! Other symptoms can include chills, fever, fatigue, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and join pain. If left untreated, Lyme can lead to serious medical complications such as arthritis, heart and nervous disorders, Bell’s Palsy, miscarriages, stillborn births, meningitis, numbness, pain and neurological damage. If you experience any of these symptoms after finding a tick, contact a physician immediately.