How to Prevent Lyme Disease and Avoid Tick Bites in the Hudson Valley
No Lyme with that: Keep ticks at bay with these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Valley has lots going for it when it comes to the great outdoors. Unfortunately, an outdoor excursion in our region may put you at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Dutchess and Ulster counties are among the nation’s leaders in the number of confirmed Lyme cases, a dubious honor indeed. (Interestingly, over the past two years Ulster has surpassed Dutchess in the incidence of Lyme disease; according to state health department stats, Ulster has a rate of 300 cases per every 100,000 people, versus Dutchess County’s rate of 140 cases.) One reason might be the unusually small acorn crop we’ve had recently. Fewer acorns mean less mice, a major host for the ticks that carry the disease. When infected ticks can’t find a mouse to bite, they turn to other mammals — like us humans.
Experts expect this year to be the worst ever for Lyme disease. Follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for prevention.
- Avoid moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas, where ticks thrive. Always walk in the center of trails.
- Products containing permethrin kill ticks. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear.
- Use a repellent containing 20% or more DEET on skin. DEET can protect up to several hours. (Follow product instructions carefully, especially with children.)
- Check your clothing for ticks. Placing clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least an hour effectively kills ticks.
- Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
- Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, which includes your back yard.
- Watch for signs of illness, such as rash or fever, in the days and weeks following a bite. See a health care provider if these develop.