May is Lyme disease awareness month, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports there are approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease in the United States every year. Although it’s not realistic for professional landscapers to simply “avoid direct contact with ticks,” as the CDC recommends, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself.
Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin. Were long sleeves, tuck shirt into pants and pants into socks, and treat clothing with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be found at Insect Repellents: Use and Effectiveness.
After returning indoors, do a thorough check for ticks, including bedding, and shower within two hours. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. Lymedisease.org has detailed instructions on how to identify a tick bite and what to do if you are bitten.
Finally, help educate homeowners on how to protect themselves and their children and pets by creating landscapes that reduce the number of ticks.
The ticks that cause Lyme disease are most active April through September, and are concentrated heavily in the northeast and upper Midwest. In 2013, 95 percent of confirmed cases were reported from 14 states: Connecticut; Delaware; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minnesota; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Vermont; Virginia and Wisconsin.