Lyme Disease Prevention Part 1: How to Avoid Getting Bit
In Connecticut, we have all heard of Lyme Disease, most of us have a fear of getting it, and many of us have experienced it firsthand. Lyme Disease has been called a silent epidemic, with CDC statistics citing that its prevalence is greater than breast cancer. However, if you think Lyme Disease is limited to our native New England area, think again. Lyme is being reported as a fast-spreading national, even global infection that is not only contracted by the classic deer tick, but by other species of ticks, insects, rodents, and even from human-to-human contact.
As we remain socially distanced and quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, spring is beckoning us outside with warmer weather and nature in full bloom. We know that vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise are all essential to immune health and overall mental and physical wellbeing, but we cannot escape the fact that Lyme Disease is at its peak threat this time of year, so extra caution should be taken to avoid getting it. In fact, experts warn that since a mild winter can contribute to a larger boom in the tick population, 2020 could potentially be a more active year for ticks and Lyme Disease across the state. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) released a recent report with funding from the CDC confirming this.
What can you do to keep you and your family safe this spring without having to worry about quarantining inside the house as well?
Some basic tips start with protecting your yard with sprays such as permethrin, pyrethrum, and cedar oil, as well as landscaping strategies to reduce tick colonies in dark, wet areas. Keeping leaves clear, grass and tree branches trimmed to allow full sun exposure, using cedar mulch, planting chrysanthemums, removing bird feeders, being mindful of stone walls, and using other resources like "tick tubes", bait boxes, and having free-range chickens or guinea hens can all help to reduce the tick population at home. Additionally, for those with pets, using collars, Spectra Shield, and natural sprays such as Wondercide can help keep ticks from adhering to dogs and cats and entering the home.
There are also some basic recommendations to keep all members of your family safe from ticks embedding themselves on the body. First and foremost, it is essential to make "tick checks" a routine practice when a family member enters the home from any outdoor activity, especially when children come in from playing in the yard or on a playground.
Implementing physical barriers is very effective as well to prevent ticks from attaching to the body. Wearing light-colored clothing, tucking pants into socks, shirts into pants, putting gloves over long-sleeved shirts, pulling hair back, and using hats with bug netting are all useful first-line-defense strategies. Spraying products containing non-toxic cedar oil on oneself and clothing can add another layer of safety. Specially treated clothing items with Insect Shield lasts up to 70 washes, and using DEET/permethrin may be helpful, but is recommended to be used on the soles of shoes only due to its level of toxicity.
Above all, the most proactive and protective measure against the effects of Lyme Disease is to minimize systemic inflammation and boost your immune system on an ongoing basis. For both adults and children, proper nutrition is essential. Eliminating refined sugar, processed foods, artificial ingredients, and pro-inflammatory, reactive foods (such as gluten and dairy) are key. Consuming ample phytonutrients and polyphenols found in organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, clean proteins, legumes, nuts and seeds, and naturally gluten-free grains and starches offer a good diversity of nutrients. Supplementing with EPA/DHA, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics for a healthy microbiome are also essential. Drinking ample filtered water, limiting toxic factors in the home and personal care products, managing stress and engaging in daily stress-reduction practices, and getting adequate exercise, sleep, rest, and play are also necessary. Additionally, a variety of immune-enhancing herbs such as Andrographis, Astragalus, Cat's Claw, and Lyme Nosode can all be effective if there has been increased tick exposure. Like any other pathogenic threat, whether it be viral or bacterial (as in the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria that causes Lyme), cultivating a foundation of health will decrease the severity of the infection and subsequent disease progression.
If you do suffer a tick bite, it is ideal to save the tick and send it to tickreport.com to identify the presence of the Lyme spirochete and other co-infections. Getting tested and seeking care immediately from a physician and Lyme-literate doctor is recommended for a comprehensive protocol that can reduce the systemic impact of the infection.