Prevention recap

By Paula Jackson Jones | Aug 12, 2017

As summer stretches into August, our battle with ticks remain strong and so must our attention to prevention practices. It may seem like repetitive information but as the number of new cases of tick-borne disease continue to climb upwards and the phone calls and emails looking for assistance continue to come in, I will be right here sharing with you all that I know from firsthand experience.

Back when I bitten by a tick, I wasn’t thinking about tick repellent or tick checks. I was enjoying my time outdoors without any awareness as to what was lurking right in my own yard. Until I was bit, misdiagnosed repeatedly and my entire life turned upside down, I had no idea of the importance of all of this. But trust me when I say that I hear it daily. People call, email and Facebook message frantically looking for answers and directions. People don’t understand why the answer isn’t simple, why there is so much incorrect, outdated and conflicting information not only being shared but followed and applied. All I can say if that with any disease, history and science have shown the evolution process and how things get muddied.

I have had the honor of sharing what I know and have experienced firsthand with you in this column for 21 weeks now and I hope that I am providing helpful information, direction and assistance. I get asked about things that I have previously written about and so I want to let you know that all my LYME TIME articles are archived on my blog that can be found on our website mldse.org (on the LYME TIME tab). Please feel free to check out some of the topics that I’ve covered.

So, to recap prevention for our residents and our visitors, there are five areas that you want to focus on: Skin, Clothing, Pets, Homes, and Yards. There is no right or wrong repellent for your skin but using nothing is not the answer. Treating your skin and wearing insect-repellent clothing reduces your probability of having a tick encounter. Doing a tick check when you come in from being outside. Throw your clothing in the dryer, high heat for 10 minutes. Talk to your vet about the best protection for your pet. Use cleaning products with ingredients that repel ticks. Consider having your yard treated or do it yourself. Safeguard where you live, play and work and as your encounters with ticks decrease so does the fear factor. Education empowers and de-sensitizes thus reducing the fear factor.

Should you have a tick encounter, SAVE THE TICK! Testing the tick is your best course of action to know what you’ve been exposed to. Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesia and Powassan are here in Maine and the number of new cases are on the rise but diagnosing them is not always easy. Symptoms can vary or be delayed, not every tick-borne disease produces a rash or the classic bulls-eye and testing is unreliable. Researchers are working on better testing but until then, we can take some control, have the tick tested and know what we’ve been exposed. Taking this information to your doctor will help guide them in treating you.

The purpose of my weekly column is to raise awareness, educate and empower the reader to know that you have options, options to reduce having a tick encounter, options if you have a tick encounter and options for testing that tick and knowing how to proceed from there. I only wish someone had shared this information with me back in 2009 when I was bitten. I lost so much on my journey but I gain a new awareness and understanding and now being in remission from late stage neurological Lyme complicated by four co-infections, it is my honor to share resources and help you find your path to health and wellness.

Paula Jackson Jones is president of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education, a nonprofit 501c3 and Maine-partner of the National Lyme Disease Association and member of Maine CDC Vector-borne Workgroup. You can reach her at paula@mldse.org or visit mldse.org.

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