Tips to avoid Lyme disease from top Yale expert

Environment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – We are now in the latter half of summer. This is the time of year when ticks are changing from their nymph stage to their adult stage, and experts say the adults are far more likely to carry Lyme disease.

This time of year, everyone likes to enjoy the great outdoors. The trouble is, some of your favorite places are likely to have ticks.

“Forests, places where there’s a lot of leaf litter, or where there’s a lot of vegetation,” explained Dr. Eugene Shapiro of Yale New Haven Hospital

Dr. Shapiro is one of the world’s leading experts on Lyme disease. He says a quarter of the ticks in their smaller nymph stage are infected with Lyme. However, because they are smaller, they are actually more likely to infect you. The adult ticks we see this time of year have fed more often, from a greater variety of animals.

“So there’s a higher rate of infection, but because they’re larger, it takes longer for the bacteria to migrate so there’s much less risk of infection, but it still can occur,” Shapiro said.

Since ticks take several hours to transfer Lyme disease to you, you have time to check yourself and your kids after outdoor adventures. If you do find a tick, here is what you should do:

“Take a fine tipped tweezers, grab as close as you can and pull. As close as you can to the skin and pull,” according to Dr. Shapiro.

It can be tricky for doctors to diagnose someone with Lyme, but Dr. Shapiro says that distinctive round red rash is a good clue. To avoid getting bit, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks, and use bug spray.

“You want to wear something with DEET, maybe 30% DEET ideally. You have to reapply it periodically. You can also spray permethrin on your clothing, which will actually kill the ticks,” Shapiro said.

He also noted that the threat of tick-borne illness does not end when summer does. In fact, you can still get Lyme disease from ticks all through the fall months as well.

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