Temperatures have risen. It’s time to get outside and enjoy God’s creation. It’s also a great time to remind you that there are hidden dangers lurking outdoors. Keep your family safe from ticks and poison ivy with these helpful tips.
Lyme Disease is a real threat in Pennsylvania. Minimize ticks in your yard to protect your family with these simple ideas.
Spring cleaning efforts usually tend to stay on the inside of the house, but spreading those efforts to your yard will help re-duce the tick population for the upcoming seasons. Once the last of the snow is gone, it is best to start tackling the yard work right away!
Dealing with & Preventing Ticks
Ticks prefer damp, dark areas to live and hide in. You can reduce the population of these pests by removing any brush and leaf debris that may have collected over the winter. Make sure overgrown areas are cut back and cleared. Trim back overhanging trees to increase sun exposure.
Treat all the areas on and around your property, even paths and walkways. While deer ticks often stay in the brush perimeter of the property, other types of ticks may venture out further into the yard.
Wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and raccoons carry ticks onto your property. Deterring these critters from coming close to the home in search of food will help in tick prevention. Protect your plants with a repellent or fencing to keep wildlife from having a food source.
Rodents are one of the main carriers of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Ticks often pass the bacterium on to us after picking it up from rodent hosts, especially the white-footed mouse. Placing permethrin treated tick tubes around your yard helps decrease ticks feeding on mice, which then decreases opportunities for the spread of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.
Place children’s swing sets and slides in sunny areas. For an added measure of protection, keep kids' play areas at least ten feet away from shady, wooded environments.
Protect yourself, loved ones, and pets from ticks. The Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania is continuing to offer Free Basic Panel Tick Testing for PA residents through funds received from the PA Department of Health. If you find a tick attached, don’t panic. Submit your tick to the lab for testing at this site: www.ticklab.org/test-my-tick
Dealing with Poison Ivy
Another hidden danger lurking outdoors is poison ivy. In one study, ten percent of all occupational injuries among seasonal farm workers in PA and NY were due to poison ivy contact.
Poison ivy is typically a hairy, ropelike vine, with three shiny green (or red in the fall) leaves budding from one small stem. Two phrases to keep in mind, “Leaves of three, let them be!” and “Hairy vine, no friend of mine!”
Here’s what makes poison ivy a danger. Urushiol, which is an oleoresin (lacquer), oozes from the broken leaf and stems. It can be transmitted to the patient by contact with the plant, or pets, tools, gloves, shoes, and clothing for months. Washing clothes in regular laundry detergent will decontaminate fabrics. Poison Ivy should never be burned as it vaporizes the oil, causing lung damage.
The characteristic wheals and blisters of poison ivy contain serum and not the urushiol. Poison ivy and other poison plant rashes can’t be spread from person to person. It is possible to pick up the rash from plant oil that may have stuck to clothing, pets, garden tools, and other items that have come in contact with these plants.
If you are exposed to a poisonous plant, take the following steps:
Immediately rinse the skin with rubbing alcohol, poison plant wash, degreasing soap (such as dishwashing soap), or detergent and a lot of water.
Rinse frequently so that wash solutions do not dry on the skin and further spread he urushiol.
Scrub under nails with a brush.
Wash exposed clothing separately in hot water with detergent.
After use, clean tools with rubbing alcohol or soap and a lot of water. Urushiol can remain active on the surface of objects for up to five years. Wear disposable gloves during this process.
If you or a loved one does come in contact with poison ivy, you should see a doctor when over 25% of the body surface is contaminated; if there is any sign of infection; if the rash is on the hands, face, mouth, eyes, or genitals; and if the patient has a history of severe reactions.
Topical prescription corticosteroids are most effective in early stages before the blisters form. They will help with itching and promote drying of the lesions. Oatmeal baths might be soothing but are not of much value. We recommend Burows solution (aluminum acetate). Dissolve one packet in one pint of water and apply as a wet dressing for fifteen to thirty minutes, three to six times daily. This will greatly relieve itching.
Get out and enjoy the beautiful world God has created. Just be safe, and let us know if we can help in any way.
To your health!
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