Lyme Disease Awareness Month – What You Need to Know
Did you know that May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month? We did! Luckily, dry and arid New Mexico has fairly few cases of the worst illnesses caused by tick bites, but they do occur. New Mexico has had 46 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in the past. And if you’re going to adventure into the forests and rivers in other states, be aware of tick warnings in summer and fall. At New Mexico Pest Control, we hold the prevention of tick-borne diseases in Santa Fe, Las Cruces, and the surrounding areas as one of our top priorities.
What Causes Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by infected ticks when they bite into skin and transfer the bacteria into the victim’s bloodstream. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, two ticks carry this disease in the United States: the black-legged tick and the western-legged tick (present primarily on the west coast). Each year, over 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported in the U.S.
What Are the Effects of Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease signs are not always obvious. Some things to know about the effects of Lyme disease include:
- Common symptoms can often be mistaken for other ailments as they include fatigue, fever, joint pain, and headaches.
- One of the most characteristic symptoms is a rash known as Erythema Migrans. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this can appear at the site of a tick bite anywhere from 3 to 30 days after being bitten.
- Paying close attention to symptoms is critical as Lyme disease can be better treated with early detection. That said, additional blood tests may be required for confirmation.
- You should seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of the previously mentioned symptoms, particularly after outdoor activities.
What Are Some Ways You Can You Prevent Lyme Disease?
One of the most important initiatives of Lyme Disease Awareness Month is prevention. In this case, it all comes down to tick control and awareness. Here are a few preventative measures to consider:
- Modify tick habitats around your home: Our recommendations for habitat modification include regularly grooming your yard. Focus on eliminating crops attractive to deer and other animals, and removing bird feeders as well as wood piles from your property. It’s also best to avoid traveling into wooded areas where ticks live.
- Dress for the occasion: Ticks are small, which can make them difficult to detect. If you’re planning to visit known tick habitats, like woods and rivers, dress in light-colored garments to make spotting them easier. Additionally, you should wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. This includes wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toed shoes.
- Use care and caution: When in wooded areas, walk in the center of trails. Avoid walking through heavily wooded or brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Spray exposed skin with a repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off any ticks that may be crawling.
- Check your pets: Pets can easily and unknowingly pick up ticks when wandering outside. Remember to treat your pets with tick repellent. Ticks change hosts numerous times throughout their lifespan. They can easily migrate from your pet to you. Always inspect your pet after outings to ensure your furry friends are not bringing ticks indoors where they can be a danger to your family.
- Self inspection: After returning indoors from any woodland area excursion, you should check yourself for ticks. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends checking in and around your hair, ears, under your arms, inside of your belly button, around your waist, between your legs, and behind your knees.
- Home defense: If your home is near tick habitats, or you have pets, keep your home defended. A pest management professional can apply the necessary chemicals around your home to protect you and your family.
Professional Tick Control Services
Here at New Mexico Pest Control, we’d like to think that every month should be Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Since we’re not able to do that, we’ll take the month of May to increase awareness about the disease and ways to attempt prevention. If you’re worried about ticks in your yard, schedule an appointment with us today! Our trained technicians can hunt down the places ticks like to live and hide, and help keep them out of your yard for good.