BY KENDRA MURRAY
As our climate warms, the tick population increases, as does the risk of Lyme and other tick-transmitted diseases. Many of us know someone who has been affected by Lyme. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the highest incidence rates of tick-borne diseases in the country, and Lyme is not all we need to watch for. Relapsing fever, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis are just a few more to be aware of. Powassen virus is another frightening virus which can be transmitted nearly instantly, versus other diseases which can take up to one day to be spread. Powassen virus can cause fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, seizures, memory loss, and neurological damage. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this virus at this time.
We invited Larry Dapsis, an entomologist at Cape Cod Extension, to come down to speak with us about ticks. Dapsis showed us a short documentary, “Tick Days,” in which he stars. Wellfleet filmmaker Marnie Crawford Samuelson follows Dapsis around the Cape as he educates local residents and visitors alike about tick-borne diseases, and interviews those who have been affected by ticks.
After showing the film, Dapsis talked about prevention and opened up the floor to Q & A. The group of attendees, who had packed the room, was lively and had many questions for Dapsis. Some important takeaways were:
- Treat clothes and shoes with a permethrin spray. This treatment is effective for roughly 4-6 weeks or 6 washes.
- Cats cannot metabolize permethrin, so make sure they are not exposed to clothes and shoes until the application has completely dried.
- Spray bare legs with a bug spray containing DEET.
- Make sure dogs and cats that go outdoors have flea and tick collars or another treatment recommended by your veterinarian.
- If you plan on treating your yard, Dapsis recommended spraying the perimeter with a Permethrin based spray three times: once in May, late June, and October. He recommends Eight by Bonide. Follow application directions closely.
- After spending time outdoors, throw clothing in dryer for 20 minutes. This kills ticks.
- If bitten by a tick, use pointy tweezers to grasp the tick by the head and pull straight up. Store the tick in a baggie and date it. After removing tick, apply antiseptic to the area where bit. Tick cans be sent out for testing at tickreport.com
Learn more at capecodextension.org/ticks
View “Tick Days” at dnrt.org/ticktalk