The intensity and prevalence of tick-borne diseases are alarmingly on the rise in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a record number of new tick-borne disease cases in 2017, a 22% increase versus the previous year.
Tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, are no longer localized in New England. The CDC reports every state has tick-borne diseases with the incidents rate rising significantly across the South-East and into Southern states such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Regardless of where you travel, be aware of tick-borne diseases and have a heightened awareness for how to protect yourself and your loved ones while traveling.
The threat further intensifies as the weather gets warmer and travel increases. In the summer months, May through August, roughly 5,000 people per week contract Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases throughout the US. Additionally, the Tick-Borne Working Group, appointed by Congress, reports that most well-intentioned practices to prevent tick bites are not supported by science and are simply ineffective.
So, what can travelers do to protect themselves against the threat and hazards of tick bites?
Travel with Picaridin Insect Repellent
The most important thing you can do to keep from getting bitten by a tick and risk contracting a vector-borne disease is to always wear a proven, body-worn tick repellent like Ranger Ready. The active ingredient in Ranger Ready Repellents is Picaridin 20%, a safe and effective DEET alternative. Picaridin 20% provides up to 12 hours of tick protection, is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is safe for use by adults and children who are at least 1-year old, as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Ranger Ready is also available in a convenient, TSA-approved 3.4 oz size pump spray.
AVOID areas where ticks live.
Traveling to explore new places and destinations is all part of life’s adventure. It’s why we love the great outdoors and the warmer months of Spring and Summer. Whenever venturing into uncharted territory, the same rule always applies — be aware of your surroundings.
Ticks thrive in wood piles, long grass, leaf piles, and beach grass. Know what to expect from ticks and be conscious of where you are most likely to encounter them. Ticks can live in tall grass and in brushy and wooded areas, so beware before diving in. Ticks often wait at the end of branches, leaves and grass to brush against animals and humans, so be smart and stay on hiking paths. You could be the meal a hungry tick has been waiting for.
WEAR light-colored clothing: long pants, sleeves, socks, and closed-toe shoes.
What you wear and how you wear it is a key factor in tick prevention. Even in warm weather, the importance of wearing long pants and socks when hiking, camping, hunting or fishing where ticks are common is of utmost importance. Be sure to tuck your pants into socks, and your shirt into pants. This will keep ticks from crawling up your legs and making their way onto your skin. Long-sleeved shirts are also best, but if the summer sun is simply too hot to handle, remember to apply your Ranger Ready tick repellent to any exposed skin, including hands and neck.
Apply to your skin after sunscreen. Hold the repellent 4-6 inches from your skin and spray directly onto limbs, hands, feet and neck. For your face, spray onto hands first, then apply to face, avoiding eyes and mouth. Be sure to spread evenly for proper coverage. Additionally, be sure to spray around clothing seams and on the outside of clothing for an extra layer of protection. Ranger Ready is non-corrosive and won’t harm your travel gear. Apply Ranger Ready every 12-hours for tick and mosquito protection, and every 8-hours for other biting insects.
REMOVE clothing upon entering your home. Toss your clothes into your dryer at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill ticks. Ticks can hide in your socks, pants, shirts, hats, and other articles of clothing, so be sure to include all apparel.
EXAMINE yourself, your loved ones, and your pets for ticks daily.
Do everything you can to prevent tick bites, and that includes checking yourself, your loved ones, and your pets for ticks after any excursion into areas where ticks are found. Performing frequent tick checks can increase your chances of finding a tick before it can transmit a debilitating illness including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Powassan virus.
Check for ticks:
- In your hair and around the hairline
- In and behind your ears
- Under the arms
- Inside your belly button
- Around your waistline
- Between your legs
- Behind your knees
Always Remember: If you are feeling ill or have developed a fever or rash following a potential tick bite, call your doctor immediately.
Know Before You Go
Ticks can be found in most parts of the U.S., but it’s essential to be extra vigilant when traveling to a state or area that has a particularly high incidence of tick-borne diseases. This Lyme disease map from the CDC will give you a good idea of what to expect.
Different species of insects are more prevalent in different parts of the country, and those species are responsible for carrying different disease-causing pathogens. The list below outlines the tick species most likely to bite humans, where to find them and the risks associated with being bitten.
Active Region: Widely distributed across the Eastern U.S.
Diseases Transmitted: Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and Powassan virus
When Encountered: Spring, Summer, and Fall in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic states. Adult ticks will search for a host any time Winter temperatures are above freezing.
LONE STAR TICK
Active Region: Widely distributed in the Eastern states, but more common in the South
Diseases Transmitted: Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, Heartland Virus, Bourbon Virus and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)
When Encountered: Early Spring through late Fall. Very aggressive tick bites on humans. Adult female is distinguished by a white dot or “lone star” on back.
AMERICAN DOG TICK
Active Region: Widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains, also found in limited areas on the Pacific Coast
Diseases Transmitted: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia
When Encountered: Spring and Summer
BROWN DOG TICK
Active Region: Worldwide. Primary vector for the disease in the Southwestern United States and along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Diseases Transmitted: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
When Encountered: Dogs are primary host but may also bite humans or other mammals.
GROUNDHOG TICK (Woodchuck Tick)
Active Region: Throughout the Eastern half of the U.S.
Disease Transmitted: Powassan Virus
When Encountered: Mostly feed on smaller mammals but have been known to bite humans.
GULF COAST TICK
Active Region: Southeast & Mid-Atlantic states, southern Arizona
Disease Transmitted: R. parkeri rickettsiosis (a form of spotted fever)
When Encountered: Warmer months of spring and summer. Feed mostly on birds and small rodents.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN WOOD TICK
Active Region: Rocky Mountain states, including New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana
Diseases Transmitted: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever and Tularemia
When Encountered: Adult ticks are primarily associated with pathogen transmission to humans when temperatures are above freezing.
Active Region: Throughout the Western U.S., including Texas
Diseases Transmitted: Borrelia hermsii and Tick-borne Relapsing Fever
When Encountered: Most common human contact in rustic cabins, and in caves in Texas. Ticks feed at night during sleep. Most people are unaware that they have been bitten.
WESTERN BLACKLEGGED TICK (Deer Tick)
Active Region: Pacific Coast states
Diseases Transmitted: Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and very likely Borrelia miyamotoi disease (a form of relapsing fever)
When Encountered: Spring and Summer months show most activity. Most commonly found on deer, so be wary of wooded areas.
Ranger Ready encourages everyone to get outside and enjoy nature, but always remember to play protected, use repellents with Picaridin 20%, and Be Tick AWARE.