What do Jason Bourne and tick-born infections have in common? They can land you flat on your back very quickly. Unfortunately, tick-born diseases aren’t a Robert Ludlum fiction. Lyme disease, which is transmitted by ticks carrying the Borrelia bacteria, can trigger a nasty rash, arthritis and mental dysfunction. And this year tick-ologists (would you rather we said tick-ophiles?) are predicting a particularly intense bite season.
The reason? A mild winter? Nope. It’s the lack of acorns! Turns out when the acorn crop is down (it is), then there are fewer of the ticks’ favorite meal plan -- white-footed mice. Without as many little rodents running around, the ticks cruise for a substitute. And that means you.
So what’s a nature-loving, pet-hugging person to do? Here’s your basic four-point plan to take the bite out of tick season:
No. 1: Use insect repellant with DEET. We’re convinced the benefits far outweigh the risks, if there are any risks at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does say young kids and pregnant women should avoid the pesticide. Try oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD, for para-menthane-3,8-diol, the synthesized version).
No. 2: Cover up with long sleeves and pants tucked into your socks when in grassy or wooded areas; and wear light-colored clothing to spot any hop-alongs.
No. 3: Shower when you get home; ticks don’t always bite immediately, and you may wash them off.
No. 4: Check your pets! Ticks hidden in fur and hair can infect you easily -- and your family’s best friend.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.