MANALAPAN — With warm weather here, the Manalapan Health Department is urging individuals to take preventative steps to protect themselves against Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection that is spread by deer and more prevalent in the spring and summer months.
An estimated 20,000 people a year contract Lyme disease and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70 to 80 percent of patients have a rash pattern, commonly called a bullseye.
Deer ticks typically feed on the blood of mice, small birds and deer, but they can also feed on the blood of humans, cats, dogs and horses. They live in low bushes and tall grasses of wooded areas, waiting for warmblooded animals to pass by. Deer ticks are most active in the summer.
The Manalapan Health Department recommends that individuals take the following precautions:
• Avoid tick-infested areas such as overgrown grass and brush and leaf litter.
• Wear light-colored clothing that would make it easier to spot ticks crawling on the clothing. Tuck pants legs into socks so ticks cannot crawl up the inside of pants legs.
• Use insect repellent to discourage tick attachment.
According to a press release from the health department, the best and most effective means of tick bite prevention is to perform a thorough tick check after returning from the field and remove any ticks found.
Remove a tick with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once the entire tick is removed, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.
Monitor the bite victim and see a healthcare provider if symptoms develop.
To reduce ticks around the home:
• Remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edges of lawns.
• Place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration to recreational areas.
• Mow the lawn and clear brush and leaf litter frequently.
• Keep the ground under bird feeders clean.
• Stack wood neatly and in dry areas. For more information visit the Internet website at www.cdc.gov/lyme.