Getting the kids ready for summer camp is about as much fun as snorkeling in the bathtub. But summer means it’s time for “The Talk.” No, not that talk…
Let’s talk about ticks!
TOP 5 TICK TIPS
- Prevention is key.The focus is on preventing the bite in the first place to stop ticks in their tracks. Parents can protect their families from Lyme disease through daily tick checks and the use of tick repellent clothing.
- Ticks are now in almost every stateand are most active in the warmer months April-September. Each year, over 300,000 people in the US catch Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria from a tick. In 2014, 96% of confirmed Lyme disease cases were reported from these 14 states: Connecticut, New York,New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Maine, Virginia, Minnesota, Delaware, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
- How to identify ticks:They come in small (larvae), medium (nymphs) and large (adult female/male) sizes. Nymphs are as small as a poppy seed and are around in the spring and early summer, and larger adult ticks come later in summer and fall. Their life span is approximately 2 years. Tick Identity Chart is here.
- Most ticks crawl onto people from the ground – from the grass, brush, bushy areas, and leaf piles. Have your children wear closed-toed shoes with socks (not sandals or flip flops), and even better, pre-treat their shoes with permetherin spray before they go.
- The sooner a tick is removed, the better. (It is still unclear if ticks must be attached for longer than 24 hours to pass on the Lyme disease infection). If a tick is infected, the chance of transmission increases with time.
WHERE DO TICKS LIVE?
– Ticks thrive in humid, dark, shady, wooded areas and taller grasses, leaf piles and along grassy creek beds.
– Ticks can easily dry out, so the woods provide them with protection from the sun and wind where they can thrive longer.
– Ticks do not drop on you from trees, jump or fly; they mostly attach at ground level and crawl up your leg.
– Let your kids know it’s best to stay in the middle of the trail when hiking.
– Note: Many people get bitten in their own backyards, or close to home.
3 WEEKS BEFORE CAMP
- Begin having Tick Talks and Tick Checks with your children so they learn how to be their own advocate and know when to ask for help.
- Know your ticks: Tick identification Chart
- Ask your camp how they handle ticks and Lyme prevention – and what precautions are in place.
- Order Tick Kits that contain tick identification cards and removal supplies from Mainely Ticks: http://www.mainelyticks.com/supplies-kit.html
- Order tick repellent clothing, gear and sprays (Information in links below).
- Teach your kids how to conduct a full body check when returning from outside: Video how to on YouTube here.
– Check head, hair, on the back of your neck and in and around your ears
– Inside your belly button
– Around your waist
– Between your legs
– Under arms and on the backs of your knees
– Your feet and toes
– Maybe even get a tick check buddy (for those hard-to-see places!)
– A recent study found that throwing your clothes in the dryer for 6 minutes on high heat will kill all blacklegged ticks.
– Unfortunately, a tick bite is painless – ticks like to burrow into the skin and suck on a person’s blood, but you don’t feel a thing
– If your child thinks they have a tick embedded, they should go straight to their counselor to get it properly removed.
WHAT TO PACK
– Wearing lightly-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks – long sleeves and pants are best.
– You can purchase clothes that come treated with permethrin, a repellant that kills ticks on contact. (Clothes commercially treated keep their effectiveness for up to 70 washes).
– Pre-treated clothes can be purchased directly from companies like Insect Shield, ExOfficio, or you can order Insect Shield clothing directly from Project Lyme to get a 20% discount with 10% going to tick prevention here.
– Or you can even send your child’s own clothing directly to Insect Shield to be treated with permethrin – this also lasts for 70 washes. Information herealso good for 20% discount.
– Or you can treat them at home using a permethrin soak or spray kits available from Amazon. (NOTE: these last only about 3-6 washes).
– Don’t forget their shoes! Since ticks hide in leaf litter and tall grasses, protecting their feet is really key. Tick repellent-sprayed shoes are the best defense against tick bites; just spray with Permethrin before the trip. How to here.
– Sleeping bags and tents should also be sprayed. You can also purchase an Insect Shield Travel Sheet here.
– Tick Kits for older kids to order here.
ABOUT TICK REPELLENTS
No repellent is 100% effective. But DEET and Permethrin are well-known and effective repellents against ticks. Repellent clothing is more effective and less toxic to people than DEET sprays or lotions.
– DEET is approved by the EPA and many brands come in easy-to-carry travel sizes that are perfect to take on camp adventures.
– Health agencies offer conflicting advice about the DEET concentration safe for children. CDC recommends DEET with maximum concentrations of 20-30% for children’s protection from Lyme disease borne by ticks. Health Canada recommends DEET with concentrations no greater than 5-10% for children. But this weaker concentration may not offer a strong defense against ticks bearing Lyme disease.
– We recommend DEET only when your kids do not have pretreated clothing, or if they will be in a heavy tick area. For the best protection, spray DEET on exposed skin, and wear treated clothing.
– Learn tick bite and Lyme disease symptoms here.
– Not all bites are accompanied by a bulls-eye rash.
For more information, visit us at www.ProjectLyme.org. Project Lyme is a global awareness non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and early diagnosis of Lyme and other tick-borne disease. #TalkAboutTicks