Friday, June 14 was “Tick Day” on the Boothbay peninsula. Paula Jackson-Jones, co-founder of MidCoast Lyme Disease Support & Education. gave three talks about how to prevent tick bites and what to do if you have a tick encounter. Paula spoke to staff of the Boothbay Region Greenhouses, then staff and volunteers at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and then wrapped up with a public talk at the Community Center. In each case, Paula spoke briefly about her own experience of getting five different diseases from a single tick bite, and going thru 22 medical providers with diagnoses ranging from Chronic Fatigue and stress, to Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s before she was correctly diagnosed by providers 23 and 24. Since regaining her health, Paula has dedicated herself to educating others about how to prevent tick-borne infections and how to get correctly diagnosed and treated if you do have a tick encounter. Here's a summary of the main points from the first part of Paula's talk: Prevention. (You can find a more complete version under “Resources” on the BoothbayHealthCare.org website).
Part 1: Five ways to prevent tick encounters
SKIN. Use your preferred repellent on your skin daily. Wash off at the end of the day. Re-apply each morning. If you use an organic repellent, like Lemon Eucalyptus Oil, reapply every four hours. You can also use Sawyer's Picaridin lotion or spray, and lasts 12 hours. It's safe for children over 6 months old.
CLOTHING. Wear clothing (outerwear, shoes, hats, gloves, socks) that have been treated with Permethrin insect repellent. Permethrin should not be applied to your skin. Spray it on your clothes (or soak them in it) and let them dry in a well-ventilated or outdoor location. Once the repellent has bonded to the cloth, it will not rub off or harm you, your children, or your pets. It will last for six weeks or six washings. If you don't want to treat your own clothing, you can purchase clothing infused with Permethrin. For non-treated clothes, when you come inside, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes while you shower. That will kill any ticks.
PETS. Consult with your vet on the best form of preventive treatment for your dog or cat. Some breeds may have adverse reactions to certain tick preventive treatments. In addition to whatever you and your vet decide upon, you should have your pet wear a Permethrin-treated jacket that will kill ticks on contact and keep them from being brought into your home. For indoor/outdoor cats, you may want to rub diatomaceous earth on your hands and rub it into your cat's fur when petting them. It will dry out the ticks' shells & kill the ticks.
HOUSE. Use cleaning products in your home that contain: Cedar, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Rosemary, or Lemon Eucalyptus. These will repel ticks. You can also add a few drops of Permethrin to your preferred cleaning product, spritz your bedding, and treat your furniture and pet bedding with Permethrin (keep off until fully dried).
YARD. Keep your grass mowed short. It's possible to treat your yard to deter ticks with either chemical or organic products. For more information about chemical lawn treatments or natural organic options, you can go to http://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/bugs/tick-mosquito-companies.htm to find a pest control company nearest you. You can ask for both chemical and organic options.
Most important, if you do find an embedded tick, remove it carefully and send it away to be tested for disease(s) and come to our Lyme-Literate Boothbay Region Health Center for preventative treatment. Don't wait for the test results. Every day counts! If you have questions, call the Health Center at 633-1075 or Paula Jackson-Jones at 446-6447.