What is a tick? It is a small, brown, eight legged bug, with a tiny head, and a fat round bottom that burrows into skin and feeds on blood. Ticks live in the forest, and typically crawl up and over shoes to get to your skin, but it is not uncommon for them to fall on you from above. This is why many people find them attached to their scalp.

Any time the topic of ticks comes up, you can be sure Lyme disease will also be brought up. If you’ve never heard of it, it is an infectious disease caused by bacterium transmitted by blacklegged ticks. Common symptoms of Lyme disease are: fever, fatigue, headache, and skin rash. If untreated, Lyme disease can spread to joints, the heart, and even the nervous system, creating a number of severe medical problems, some of which are untreatable.

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Experts say that within the tick species that give humans Lyme disease, 50-60% have the bacterium in them. This is an alarming percentage. Also, according to the CDC, Lyme disease cases are on the rise. That is why it is even more important to protect yourself and your pets.

If you go walking in the woods much, consider stuffing your pant legs into your socks, to prevent ticks from crawling up under. It is also good to wear light colored pants, so you can easily see if you have ticks on you. Wearing a hat is good added protection, to prevent ticks from falling from a branch, and landing in your hair.

If you have pets, make sure to check them regularly, according to how much you let them roam near the woods. Your cats will probably be fine, because they groom themselves, but it is good to check anyway. Your dog will most likely be the one to carry those ticks into your home. And, don’t expect to see symptoms of the disease. Few dogs react to Lyme disease the way humans do. But if you notice your dog is tired a lot, or is having trouble walking around, you should schedule a checkup, immediately.

To protect your home, keep grass cut low and clutter picked up. Wood piles, construction material, and other lawn debris, are breeding grounds, and rest stops, for ticks. Make your lawn a long dry walk in the sun, and ticks will stay in the shadow of the tree line. Look into getting a lawn treatment, as well. Kill the ticks where they live, so your pets can’t carry them into the house, and your kids will be safe when they go out to play. Find out how easy it is to protect your family from ticks and Lyme disease.