Tag Archives: ticks lyme

2017 Updated Guide for Tick Removal, Testing, and Prevention in New England

8 Mar

tick on neck

by Cora Rivard, N.D./Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC

After dealing with my own late stage Lyme infection years ago, and working with patients who have Lyme disease, I know firsthand how critical it is to prevent it. This includes knowing how to move quickly with the right tools and steps when you or a family member gets a tick bite. So, I am providing you with the info here that I wish I had known many years ago! (1. Prevention, 2. Procedures for Bites.)

First: Prevention:

  1. Get one of these. This is hands down the best tick remover device you can get. I have tested out many styles, but my favorite by far is the notched spoon method. It can safely remove ticks of any size, even nymphs and larval sizes, with head and mouth intact every time. I like the 3 pack because it is great to have back-ups. We keep one on a hook in our home, so anyone knows where to find it quickly when needed.
  2. Wear pants (preferably light-colored so easier to visualize ticks) tucked into socks when in the woods and when doing yardwork.
  3. You may apply tick repellent sprays, herbal or chemical, to shoes, pants and legs prior to walks in the woods. For children, I recommend parents use safer, non-DEET repellants if possible. Formulations with essential oils like lemongrass, cedar, rosemary may be OK to repel ticks (but should be re-applied often). Just be extra careful using essential oils, especially on children- some can cause burns if directly applied to skin. A little applied to sock tops, pant legs/hems may be adequate: Botani Organics Tick Guard Repellant Spray — 4 fl oz(by the way- for mosquitoes, the best natural product I have used is lemon eucalyptus: Repel 94109 Lemon Eucalyptus Natural Insect Repellent, 4-Ounce Pump Spray. But I don’t know if it would repel ticks.)
  4. As soon as you come inside from outdoor work or adventures, remove your clothes (this is also entertaining for your neighbors) and toss them (the clothes, not your neighbors) in the dryer for 5-10 minutes. It’s not necessary to put them in the washers, ticks don’t drown in the wash,  but a spin through the dry heat of the dryer will kill them.
  5. Nightly tick checks. Ticks are not polite- they will crawl up until they hit a crease, fold, or simply can’t climb up anymore. Always check the nether regions, back, neck, under breasts, armpits, legs, belly button, and go through the hair and scalp carefully. Another important spot to always check (especially in children) is within the curves and folds of the ears. Do this every single evening whenever snow is not covering the ground, even if you or your children have not been outside, ticks can still migrate indoors on pets….so:
  6. Don’t Sleep with Rover. You might think it is OK since you treat with him/her with chemical treatments or with a collar, but think again. It may actually repel some ticks to crawl over to a more welcoming host to bite- you!

If you are really committed to prevention, consider some landscaping/gardening techniques to naturally keep out ticks- I discuss them in my previous article, “Plants Vs Ticks.”

Second: Steps to take when you get a tick bite:

  1. Get your tick remover. If using the “Ticked Off” device, apply traction to either side of the tick bite, pulling skin tight, and gently scoop tick out with a smooth, non-jerking motion so that the mouth parts don’t break off in the skin. If you only have tweezers, gently grasp from tick from where it is attached to the skin, and pull gently out, also applying traction to skin.
  2. Never try to burn, squeeze, or otherwise irritate the tick by putting anything on it, like essential oils or vaseline. This can cause the tick to disgorge its stomach contents into the wound, along with infectious organisms.
  3. Wrap tick in a moistened piece of paper towel or moistened cotton ball, and deposit into a zip plastic baggie.
  4. Apply hydrogen peroxide, or other antiseptic to the site of the tick bite.
  5. Call your doctor’s office to ask about their protocol for treating tick bites, and to seek advice based upon how long the tick was attached, or how inflated it appeared. Note: ticks can start transmitting the organisms that cause Lyme well before 24 hrs of attachment.
  6. In the mean time, consider sending the bagged tick off for testing. The TickEncounter Resource Center out of the University of Rhode Island is a great place to search for tick testing services. I have used both the UMASS Laboratory of
    Medical Zoology ‘s TickReport
     as well as the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and have been pleased with both, though UMASS’s system is a little more user friendly. It will cost you about $50 and it will test for a variety of tickborne illnesses, returning results in about 3-5 business days (but often even faster.)

For further info

Call your doctor with concerns, they might suggest preventve treatment depending on the circumstances of the tick bite, even without symptoms. “Preventive” treatment should mean full treatment time-I often recommend to patients to complete 4 weeks of antibiotic treatment in early disease. This is longer than the guidelines set forth by the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA). Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and other infections may include any of the following: spreading rash, fever, head aches, stomach aches, flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and joint aches and pains. However, it is also possible to have no signs or symptoms for weeks or months during the initial infection. It is common for the skin surrounding tick bites to get a little red and even scabby- this is because your immune system becomes activated with the mechanical irritation of the bite, and also may react strongly to the proteins in the tick’s saliva. This is not the same as an erythema migrans- the typical Lyme rash. Show your doctor immediately if you have any kind of rash or reaction, they can help to distinguish the two.

Testing for Lyme disease in humans: generally, you must wait at least a month to get tested, as it takes a while for antibodies to mount diagnostic levels. Therefore if it is likely that you might have contracted a tick transmitted illness, either by symptoms, history of deer tick bite, or by an unusual rash (since many people who contract Lyme disease never discovered an attached tick)- your doctor may opt to go ahead and treat you.

If you do go through treatment, remember to talk to your doctor about taking probiotics (take at a separate time from antibiotics) throughout your treatment period and for at least 2-3 months beyond. Antibiotics will help to kill tick-borne diseases, but they will also wreak havoc on your intestinal ecology. Probiotics can help to protect you from getting a serious intestinal infection while your defenses are down during and post treatment. Again, talk to your doctor for guidance!

Cora Rivard, N.D. is a licensed naturopathic family doctor and owner of Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC, in Derry NH. Inquiries about appointments and services may be emailed to info@seasonsnatural.com

 

 

The 2 Things You Need NOW to Protect Your Family from Lyme Disease.

6 Apr

Spring in New England- finally! The remains of snow piles are still present, but the first tick bites are already happening, so now is the time to take precautions. This year’s deep snow has offered insulation and protection to ticks from the cold, so we’re starting with greater numbers. Plus, as the mud season is supposed to last well into May this year, and since ticks thrive in moist, cool, shady conditions,  we have a recipe for a particularly nasty year for excessive tick populations and higher than usual incidence of tick-transmitted diseases.

You need 2 things on hand right now:

1. Tick Tubes by Damminix. You can select the number of tubes needed depending on the size of your property (smaller bundles available.) They are water-resistant tubes filled with permethrin-soaked cotton balls. Mice and other small rodents, the main vectors for Lyme disease, use these to line their nests as they get ready to breed. Now is the time to start placing the tubes, mid April until June, to coincide with nesting. They turn your local field mice into tick assassins, and are not harmful to the mice. They have been shown to be very effective at eliminating ticks before they have a chance to grow, multiply and bite YOU.

2. “Ticked Off” tick removal device. This tool is hands down one of the best ways to effectively and safely remove an attached tick. I keep one at home, one in a  travel bag.

For more detailed information about how to protect yourself from ticks and tick-transmitted infections, please read my 2 prior blogs related to these topics:

Plants Vs Ticks: Lyme-Free Landscaping Don’t let your yard be a paradise for ticks, here’s what you need to know.

When Ticks Attack: You’ve Been Bitten, Now What? Here are the steps to take when a tick bite happens.

by Cora Rivard, N.D./Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC- Derry, NH

Plants Vs Ticks: Lyme-free Landscaping

5 May

english garden

by Cora Rivard, N.D.

It is already a terrible start to the year for ticks, and for new cases of Lyme and other tick-transmitted infections. That’s the bad news. The good news is it is not too late to do something about it for your yard. This article highlights landscaping strategies proven to repel ticks and the vectors that carry them in, and offers some alternatives to insecticide soil treatments to control infestations- which can be a danger to groundwater as well as potential risks from topical exposures to kids and pets. In the end, you need to do what is best for you and your family members- furry and non-furry- but this resource is a great way to start planning your strategy with effective, non-pesticide measures. (For information about what you need on hand to reduce disease transmission if you do get a tick bite, please read my recently updated article:  2017 Updated Tick Removal, Testing, and Prevention.

Landscaping

Most ticks, including deer ticks, like cool, shady, humid places to live and they don’t venture too far from where they are dropped from their hosts. Landscaping that encourages more sunshine and warm, dry conditions will limit their range. Beautiful and repellent strategies can include native plant gardens, butterfly gardens, and old cottage-style gardens. Tasks:

  • Prune back trees and shrubs to allow in more light.
  • Keeping grass clipped allows in more light and limits moisture. Ticks like tall grasses but do not cross into trimmed, clear lawns.
  • Beware of mulch. Many veterinarians report tick problems in households following mulch applications. This is because ticks relish the moisture and hiding places that it provides. If you do mulch, the type matters. Choose cedar with a preference for the nuggets/chips over the shredded. Not only is cedar a natural repellant for ticks and fleas, the nuggets retain less moisture and are therefore a stronger repellant of ticks.
  • Use a 3 foot swath of either mowed lawn, cedar mulch, or gravel as a border between your yard and neighboring woodlands. Use it as a border around play areas, walkways and porches.
  • Avoid ground cover plants as much as possible. The hiding places they provide attract mice, chipmunks and ground squirrels that spread infected ticks. Use gravel, cedar mulch or mowed grassy lawn to also border off stone walls and stacks of wood- which are also usually infected with mice.
  • Keep it neat. Pick up and neatly stack empty gardening containers to reduce hiding and nesting spots for mice.
  • Try not to be inviting to deer, which are basically HOV’s(high occupancy vehicles) for ticks. Child-safe plants that might repel deer include strong-smelling herbs such as mint family plants and lavender. An extensive list of botanicals that generally won’t attract deer can be found at this website.
  • Chickens and guinea hens? Yes, they do eat bugs like crazy. They also poop like crazy. They do seem to reduce the tick population significantly if they can roam.

Lawn Treatments

For those who prefer to avoid the widespread use of insecticides in their property, there might be more targeted ways to kill ticks by working directly with vectors. Tick tubes by Damminix on Amazon use permethrin-treated cotton balls stowed in tubes, placed strategically around your property (you can also get them direct from the manufacturer in various quantities here). Mice take the cotton to line their nests, thus eradicating ticks from all occupants. Another newer and fascinating strategy uses bait boxes to attract rodents which are then brush past an insecticide- treated applicator as they approach the bait food. This has been shown to significantly reduce tick populations, and the CDC is currently funding a study in Connecticut suburbs to see if it reduces the incidence of Lyme disease. But, frankly, they already had me at, “significantly reduces tick populations.” Here is where you can locate an installer, state by state.

For further reading on this topic, check out this article which discusses the work and research by Kirby Stafford III PhD, Vice Director, Chief and State Entomologist, Department of Entomology, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), New Haven. He ” ..has been involved in tick research on many fronts for 23 years. His 84-page handbook Tick Management Handbook (TMH), is the definitive informational word on tick ecology, diseases, removal, repellants, and a complete and varied integrated approach to tick management for the property owner.”

About the author: Cora Rivard is a practicing licensed naturopathic doctor (N.D.), a loving but occasionally embarrassing mom (according to my child), occasional writer and health activist, and owner of Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC, in Derry, NH. Website: www.seasonsnatural.com

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: