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Ticks, Encephalitis Risks, and Prevention  RSS feed

 
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My brother is coming to visit me in Lithuania this summer from the States and he's worried about catching a tick born disease. One of our clashing points is his insistence to use DEET to protect himself, whereas I'm very against tainting my home with chemicals, especially after reading up on the risks here. Am I overreacting?

Unfortunately, they don't offer vaccines against tick borne encephalitis where he lives. Are there any effective alternatives to DEET or natural remedies we could compromise on?
 
gardener
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No Maruf;  You are not over reacting your brother is.
I have lived with ticks all my life. 99% of them you feel walking on you and you remove them... no big deal.
The 1% that do bite usually are found and removed quickly. Some may swell up with blood ... again no big deal, get them to back out and in that case save them for testing if you did get sick.  
If you have a huge tick problem then each day he must check himself for ticks... even if he uses the poison on himself. Sometimes ticks don't care about deet...they like dropping on your hair and wiggling down to your scalp... doubt there will be much deet there...
If he brings a spouse or gd friend, then tell him checking each other can be a fun time.

If you wish your brother to visit and he insists on using the deet, Then insist he showers it off anytime he comes inside... or he sits outside .. Ha Ha I know family...  you gota love them!
 
master steward
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I have been using sulfur to keep from getting chigger and tick bites my whole life with success.  I have been in very woody places and tall grass so I know it works.

I dust my clothes, socks, etc. with it.  Actually we used to carry it in the car so if we unexpectedly went to the woods we would have with us.
 
pollinator
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I second Thomas's opinion. You usually feel ticks crawling on you before they get a chance to bite. They will often crawl for hours before biting in my experience. I usually check myself over before going to bed every night during tick season. With this method I occasionally find one that has bitten me, but it has only been there a few hours. So it is never swelled up and gross. Also most tick borne diseases take a day or 2 to transfer from their saliva. If they get picked off quickly there is not significant danger. Your brothers best protection will be to avoid long grass and bush, then check himself for ticks every time he goes indoors, not poisoning himself to prevent ticks.

If he is really worried ticks can be tested for disease. Where I am health authorities like to monitor tick populations for disease, so it is relatively easy to get a bunch tested. It might not be the same where you are.
 
thomas rubino
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Great Idea Anne!  I have never heard of using sulfur against ticks. I'll have to give it a try.

Being from and living in the north all my life I have never had the displeasure of meeting chiggers...  My wife grew up in Tenn. she assures me that a bug that goes under your skin is way worse and potenially embarrassing than a simple tick crawling on you.
 
gardener
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I moved to tick territory, and I have immune system problems and also fear tick borne diseases, as quite a bit of what I already fight with looks a lot like them. I too despise DEET and will not use it. I have settled for clothes that keep all insects off of me. I wear loose pants that I fasten tightly at the ankles, with socks beneath them, and long sleeved (also loose) shirts.
I have only had to remove one very small tick since I got here, that was when I was still learning how to barrier myself well and not have heatstroke from it, some clothes that are tick proof are HOT, and I peeled off my outer layer one day and had a tick get in.

Might be worth thinking on just dressing for ticks.
 
pollinator
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I've never felt a tick on me before it bit, and my record for attached ticks is 7 at one time. I was using deet at the time it doesn't seem to put them off, but it does do wonders for the midges that also infest scotland!
I avoid being such a free source of food now by looking an idiot and regularly wiping down my trousers and "flapping" them when walking in tick Territory.
 
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burn baby burn. I burn the leaves off every year in early Spring on about two acres surrounding the house. Helps a lot. One real bad year I spread Sevin granules.

I'm affected by this condition; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha-gal_allergy

Tick bites can set off an allergy to red meat in some people, including me. I have it pretty mild compared to some but I still went into anaphylactic shock once. It sorta wears off over time, a few years, but then another tick bite from the right tick and I can't eat ribeye, fatty ground beef, baby back ribs. I can eat a little bit of lean red meat. Some people can't eat a piece of fish or chicken that's been cooked on the same grill as red meat/beef.
 
pollinator
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I dress against them, though that's going to get mighty warm, this summer, methinks. I also make my own bug repellent/sunscreen bars. I have to be super careful, because I'm very allergic to a hoot-ton of topically applied things. So far, my bars have proven highly effecting against sun & mosquitos, but this summer will be the real test to its efficacy against ticks.
 
Maruf Miliunas
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I appreciate the quick feedback everyone. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one to feel this way about DEET.

@CarlaBurke – What's the recipe for your bars if it's not a secret?
 
pollinator
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While I too hate deet and other chemicals, I don't mess with encephalitis (or lyme disease). My dad entered a medical downward spiral after contracting encephalitis, that ended with ultimately with his death. It was not a pleasant journey for him, and resulted in 2 yrs of ups and downs. When I'm in the woods or scrubby areas of grasslands I use permethrin on my clothes and boots, and deet on any exposed skin. We keep a lint roller (the kind with sticky tape you use to roll over cloth for lint) and roller over if we have any suspected ticks, if they haven't embedded, they will stick to the tape and you can get rid of them. I'd recommend that you let your brother use the protection he feels he needs (he can apply the deet outside), but then when he enters your home shower off deet, and sequester any clothing that he might have treated with anything else, to avoid contaminating your home. I realize this might not be the most permie way to approach the situation, but if you want to respect your brother's concerns and keep chemicals from contaminating your home, this might be a good "in-between."
 
thomas rubino
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Hi Maruf;
Well I've learned a little more about this subject since this morning.
Being a healthy guy I may have come off nonchalant  about being bit by a tick. As well as the ability to test said tick or for testing for Lyme's in general.  
Over the years of working in the woods, I really have found hundreds walking on me and dozens that had bitten me . Some that  swelled up with my blood. We always used a match head to back them out. Recently Dr Redhawk informed me that is no longer recommended
As Denise has told us. For some folks this is a very serious issue.
If your brother feels that strongly ,then just ask him to shower and change clothes.
 
Carla Burke
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Maruf Miliunas wrote:I appreciate the quick feedback everyone. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one to feel this way about DEET.

@CarlaBurke – What's the recipe for your bars if it's not a secret?



I don't do secret recipes. If I were selling the stuff, that might be different, I suppose, lol. Here you go:

Carla's moisturizing sunblock/ bug repellent bars:
2oz(weight)@cocoa butter & beeswax**
1oz (weight) jojoba
.5oz@ evening primrose & frankincense
3ml@ lemongrass, geranium, & lavender essential oils
10drops sweet orange e.o.
1T non-nano zinc oxide (opt - this is the primary sunblock ingredient - use ***ONLY*** the non-nano form!)

Melt the beeswax and cocoa butter in a double boiler (I just set a heat resistant bowl on top of a pan of water), over medium heat**. As soon as the beeswax is completely melted and combined with the cocoa butter, stir in jojoba and remove from heat. Allow to cool for about ten minutes, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Stir occasionally, until it reaches a very thick - but - still - pourable consistency, and pour into a bar mold or deodorant applicator.

To use: Rub all over exposed skin, massage in until it no longer looks white. Reapply, as needed.
Notes:
1 - This stuff will soften, in heat. I've not had it liquify, but in the equatorial heat, in October (the only time of year we go, lol), it did get fairly melty, so if you can keep it in a cooler, or at the very least, out of the sun, that would be best. But, it kept me from burning, on a catamaran, in the Caribbean sea, all day.
2 - This was formulated with a friend in mind, whose skin cannot tolerate citrus. If you can tolerate it, and don't need it for sun protection, feel free to add citrus, to boost the bug repellant factor,a good deal. However, citrus oil tends to make skin much more sun sensitive. So, with citrus added, avoid sun exposure, & don't bother with the zinc.


**Beeswax melts at 156°F, and you don't want it to get much hotter, or a - you lose the beneficial qualities & b - it will catch fire.
 
pollinator
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I am out in the woods and forest almost every day, and I live in a real bad tick area. Yet, I have never been infected or even bitten yet. I think it is because of how I dress.

I always wear long pants and socks.

Yep, that is it.

I have heard that ticks cannot bit through pantyhose, but I must admit that I am kind of a man's-man so to speak, so wearing pantyhose would be pretty embarrassing. Even if no one would ever see me, just my luck I would be in a logging accident or something, and I would have to call an ambulance and be thoroughly embarrassed by what I am wearing. I can hear me now, "No really, it is to prevent tick bites". But I do mention this because they do say pantyhose does prevent tick bites.

Now I a have also heard the following, that going with bare skin also helps. There is no barrier of protection, but the thought is with bare skin a person can see the ticks on them immediately and remove them. I am not sure how much I agree with this, but it does have some semblance of rationality to it, because I have found ticks crawling on me after removing my clothing after a walk in the woods. It did not happen, but a tick could have easily found a gap in my clothing, and bitten me, and I would have never known. So there is some merit to seeing them immediately.

I am fearful of doing the latter much though because I have yet to get tick bites wearing protective clothing. Considering the vast amount of time I have spent in the woods in the last 45 years, it is hard to go with a new theory.
 
pioneer
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Not sure Travis,  but I can tell you my lady and I always wear pants and socks on our land,  and I have had a number of tick bites already this year and she has had a few.  We have wood and deer ticks and I have been bitten by both a lot of times.  Our method of control is good tick checks when we get in at night so they don't stay bitten in overnight.
 
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