Ticks are a pest commonly found in states along the East Coast, and they pose a significant threat to public health. Tick and other vector-borne diseases are on the rise, with cases within the U.S. tripling since 2004. One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is by ensuring that your yard is free of ticks and other pests. Here, we go over the dangers of tick-borne diseases, and how to keep ticks from settling in your garden.
The Health Risks of Ticks
While some tick bites cause nothing more than minor redness and swelling, others may transmit bacteria that can cause serious or even fatal illnesses. Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the U.S., with thousands of confirmed cases affecting people each year. If you are bitten by a tick, you should keep an eye on the site for the following few weeks. In 70% to 80% of individuals, the first symptom of Lyme disease is a round or oval rash that resembles a bullseye in appearance. Other symptoms include fever, fatigue, and aching. If left untreated, Lyme disease may eventually lead to erythema migrans, joint pain, and neurological issues.
Lyme disease isn’t the only disease that can be transmitted via ticks living in your yard. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another commonly reported disease, affecting around 3,000 Americans each year. If not treated immediately, it can lead to organ damage and even death. Tick bites can also lead to tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and Colorado tick fever.
What to Do if You Find a Tick
Tick bites are often painless, and so it’s a good idea to check yourself and others after spending time outdoors. In general, ticks prefer to latch onto warm, moist areas, including the armpits, the scalp, behind the knee, and around the groin. Ticks can draw blood for over a week if they go unnoticed, giving them ample time to transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
If you or someone you know is bitten, it’s crucial that you act fast to remove the tick as soon as possible. It only takes between 36 and 48 hours for Lyme disease to enter your system. You can remove a tick by putting on protective glove and using fine-point tweezers to grasp the body as close to the skin as possible. Be gentle as you pull the tick out, going slowly so as not to separate the head from the body. If a tick’s head gets stuck under the skin, the area may become infected. There are also a few other tips to keep in mind when safely removing a feeding tick:
- Avoid twisting or squeezing the tick during the removal process, as this may separate the head or force infected fluids from the body.
- While some traditional tick remedies claim that using petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or a hot surface makes tick removal easier, doing so will agitate the tick and may force out more of the infected fluid.
- Always see a doctor as soon as possible after being bitten, even if you don’t display any symptoms.
After removing a tick, thoroughly wash your hands and the site of the bite using warm water, soap, and rubbing alcohol. If possible, you should also seal the tick in a container and put it in the freezer to bring with you to your doctor’s appointment. Your doctor may need access to the tick to diagnose your symptoms.
How to Treat Your Yard for Ticks
If you find a tick on your body after spending time in your garden or doing yard work, there’s a good chance that you have a tick infestation. There are a couple of things that you can do to address the issue and prevent it from spreading. The best thing that you can do is to eliminate any habitat that’s favorable to tick populations, such as woodpiles or raked leaves. You should also keep your grass neatly trimmed, as ticks tend to hang out in tall or thick foliage.
Sometimes the best course of action is to enlist the help of a pest control professional. Services such as Dial Environmental use time treatments based on emergence along with all-natural oils, low-grade adulticides, and low-grade granulars to gently and safely treat your yard.
If you’re having trouble with backyard ticks, we’re here to help. Give us a call today and let us help you to take control of your tick problem.