Tick season is here! And in case you didn’t already know it, it’s been here for some time already. If you live in the Northeast, ticks are always a concern but the recent mild winters have lead to an explosion in their population. It doesn’t seem like there is a “tick season” anymore, as bites can occur at any time of year. My most recent bite was this past December! Being too rushed to follow my own advice to take precautions, I was outside working without “protection”. Fortunately I noticed the tick relatively quickly and removed it without incident.
Now if Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia, Babesia, Bartonella and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are not enough, there is a new player on the field, the Powassan Virus. Recently I re-posted an article from NYUPSTATE.COM describing the CDC’s growing concern over the spread of this deadly virus. Unlike other tick borne diseases which take about 24 hours to infect the host, the Powassan Virus can be transmitted to the the host organism in as little as 15 minutes.
As a long time sufferer of Lyme Disease I take tick avoidance seriously. I refuse to limit my time in nature as that is where I am most comfortable. Over the years I have experimented with many products and techniques to prevent tick exposure. As a rule I usually avoid endorsing specific products. However I have found two products that I have found to be outstanding in preventing tick bites. I have used these products for about four years now and have not had a single bite while using them.
The first product is called Buzz Away Extreme. It is an all natural insect repellent made with essential oils of geranium, citronella, cedarwood, peppermint and lemongrass. I like this product because it works, smells pretty good and does not contain any DEET, which is a dangerous neurotoxin and should never be applied to the skin. Of course the chemical companies that manufacture this poison would have you believe otherwise.
The second product is manufactured by Sawyer. I’m not sure what the official name is, but it is pictured here. This is a clothing and gear tick repellent. IT IS NOT TO BE USED ON THE SKIN. When applied to clothing and gear it bonds tightly to the fabric and resists wash-out. They say it can last for two weeks and even through the wash. I have not tried it past one week and I always reapply after washing my clothes.
Personally I order both of these products from Amazon but they should be available in any quality sporting goods store.
When it comes to preventing a tick bite nothing is fool proof. The bottom line is every season is tick season. Be vigilant with applying these repellents year round and you will greatly reduce the odds of being bitten.
If you are bitten by a tick remove it as soon as you notice it. There is no value in saving it as most place do not test ticks anymore. Report any symptoms to your doctor immediately. Be aware that in the early stages of the disease blood testing is fairly useless as the body has not had enough time to manufacture antibodies. Thus, if you’ve had a tick bite, treating clinically may be more efficacious.