May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
Snows have given way to daffodils, tulips, and singing birds and many of us are enjoying springtime hikes in the woods. There’s nothing my dogs enjoy more than running through wooded trails, sniffing everything in sight. Once the deep snow is gone, we have to worry a bit more about picking up bloodthirsty hitchhikers – disease-carrying ticks.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. As you know, ticks spread nasty diseases to both people and pets, including Lyme Disease. In humans, Lyme disease can initially cause a rash and a flu-like illness, with the later development of joint and neurological symptoms. In dogs, Lyme disease can also cause joint problems, as well as kidney and neurological disease.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, Lyme disease concentrates in the northeast and upper Midwest parts of the United States. In fact, in 2011, 96 percent of Lyme disease cases occurred in 13 states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
The Centers for Disease Control offers a variety of tips for reducing your risk of Lyme disease:
Know where to expect ticks
- Ticks are most commonly found in moist wooded or grassy areas. When walking through the woods, sticking to trails reduces your risk of encountering ticks.
Check yourself for ticks
- Check both your body and clothing for potential hitchhikers
- If you find a tick attached, gently and firmly remove it with tweezers or a tick comb
Make your yard less tick friendly
- Separate play areas from tall grasses and wooded areas using mulch
- Clear brush and leaf litter from around your home
- Discourage deer from entering your yard. Deer are a tick’s main meal. Fencing and selecting deer-resistant plants will make your yard less desirable for deer that might be transporting ticks
Remember to consistently and regularly use tick prevention treatments for your pets and inspect your pet for ticks after enjoying a nice romp outdoors.