Tick-borne diseases on rise

Repellents best protection against Lyme disease

Tick-borne diseases are on the rise and are part of a growing health problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Not all ticks carry the same diseases, but Lyme disease is the most common. In Texas, there were 165 reported cases between 2014 and 2016, according to state health records.

Twelve of those were in Bexar County. Those are reported cases. The CDC estimates that about 300,000 Americans actually develop Lyme each year, and we could see even more this year

“One theory is that warmer weather, longer seasons means that there is a longer period of time for ticks to be active. Another theory is that the spread of ticks’ hosts, mainly deer, is getting bigger.

They are in more places, which means ticks are in more places, which means that we have a great chance of running across them,” said Consumer Reports’ health editor Catherine Roberts.

The best way avoid a tick-borne infection is to not get bitten in the first place, by always using an effective insect repellent, health experts said.

Consumer Reports’ extensive testing of insect repellents found products that contain between 15 and 30 percent DEET are best at repelling ticks, along with products with 20-percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus.

To make your yard less attractive to ticks, CR said to keep your lawn mowed, remove leaves and other debris, and try to let as much sun into your yard as possible. A border of wood chips or bark-style mulch around your property can also help create a barrier to keep ticks from entering.

When you’re in wooded areas you want to make sure to wear long sleeves, long pants and closed-toed shoes, plus, it’s a good idea to tuck your pants into your socks.

If you do find a tick, use tweezers to gently remove the whole body, including the head. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. For extra protection, after you come back inside, toss your clothes into a clothes dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks that might still be hanging on. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

Keep pets free of ticks as well, so they don’t bring them into the house.

About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.