An Ounce of Prevention

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Section 13: An Ounce of Prevention

Certainly it is better to prevent infection than to be forced to treat. Taking simple precautions during the months of highest risk may help prevent Lyme disease. When safe proofing the backyard, it is important to separate the yard from wooded areas that may surround it. Wood chips are useful for this by offering a dry and hostile environment for ticks as well as serving as a safety boundary for young children. Acaricides can be added to the wood chips, however the clips must be treated yearly and the time of treatment is regionally dependant. Simple tick checks after spending time outdoors are useful in preventing attachment. Bathing with a washcloth can easily dislodge a tick before is attaches. It is important to dress protectively during summer months, especially with prolonged outdoor activities. Wearing light clothing will aid in noticing ticks. Also dressing in long pants and long sleeves as well as tucking in pant legs offers additional protection. Bug repellants also offer some protection against ticks. Applying repellant that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide) to clothing prior to out door exposure is recommend for those in highly endemic areas or for those who plan prolonged out door activities.

Remember that ticks take their time in both finding a suitable site and becoming engorged (as applies to our knowledge of deer ticks specifically). The more often tick checks are done and the more precautions taken, the less likely one is to contract Bb. If an attached tick is discovered, it is important to remove it properly. Using Vaseline, kerosene, or heat may aggravate the tick and cause it to release bacteria more quickly. We recommend that one simply use a set of tweezers to gently pull the tick from the skin, while being careful not to twist or jerk the tick. Doing otherwise may annoy the tick and promote leaving mouthparts in the skin. If possible, keep the tick; professional medical attention may be helpful in some instances – pray you find a Lyme literate doc. The more engorged the tick has become, the greater likelihood for infection. It is also prudent to record the date that the tick was discovered and any adverse symptoms experienced after the tick is removed. All of these will aid a practitioner in choosing what treatment plan is best.

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