Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dealing with the Reality of Ticks on Cape Cod

Springtime brings warmth and sunlight but also a more unwelcome aspect to daily life: vigilance with regard to ticks. Deer ticks start searching for their next meal as soon as the temperatures rise. I am hoping Oprah will do a show about Lyme Disease, spread by ticks, now a problem in almost every state in the country, which would increase awareness. Researchers have discovered that ticks not only travel on deer and mice but also on birds as well. The tick population of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket has increased so dramatically that people speak of an epidemic. We have ticks here on Cape Cod, too. Last year I wrote a flyer about Lyme, which can be obtained from the Wellfleet Health Department. Once warm weather arrives, use bug spray to repel ticks. If ticks succeed in reaching your skin, they will transmit bacteria after 24 to 48 hours, so early removal is critical. When working in the garden, I tuck pants into socks, a doubtful fashion statement but a worthwhile precaution. Finally, I do a tick check every evening before bed and recommend guests do likewise.