Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

How to Apply Repellent


Increased tick activity combined with unreliable diagnostics and limited treatment options make diligent tick-bite prevention for the entire family of utmost importance. Even when diagnosed and treated early, up to 20% of people infected with Lyme disease continue to experience debilitating symptoms. For those not diagnosed early, treatment success can vary greatly. With late-stage or chronic Lyme disease, the bacteria can adversely affect multiple organ systems, joints, the heart, the brain, and parts of the central nervous system.


The most common tick-borne illnesses are carried by blacklegged ticks (called deer ticks) that may also transmit several bacterial diseases including Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis, which often result in infections coincident with Lyme. The same blacklegged tick, may also transmit the Powassan virus which can cause encephalitis and meningitis. Experts warn that viral infections may occur in as little as 15 minutes after a tick bite.

  1. AVOID areas where ticks live. Ticks thrive in wood piles, long grass, leaf piles, and beach grass.
  2. WEAR light-colored clothing: long pants, sleeves, socks, and closed-toe shoes. APPLY EPA-approved, CDC-recommended tick repellent to skin and insecticide to clothing and shoes as directed.
  3. REMOVE clothing upon entering the home; toss into dryer at a high temperature for 10-15 minutes to kill ticks.
  4. EXAMINE yourself and your pets for ticks daily. Check everywhere — ticks love to hide!

Body-worn repellents serve as the first line of defense for tick bites.

When choosing a tick repellent, it is important to select an EPA-approved, CDC-recommended active ingredient such as Picaridin 20%. “Picaridin 20% is recommended by the CDC, the World Health Organization, and Health Canada, is the leading active ingredient sold in European pharmacies,” said Chris L. Fuentes, Founder and CEO of Ranger Ready Repellents. “We created Ranger Ready with Picaridin 20% because it’s highly effective against ticks and can be safely worn by adults and children who must be protected every day.”

Go to and use code GLA2021 for 10% off! As always, a portion of proceeds on go to GLA to advance our combined mission to protect future generations from tick bites and tick-borne illnesses.

For more prevention tips, visit

Preventing Tick Bites on a Child Proves Challenging



Children account for 25% of all Lyme disease cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, tick bite prevention methods are failing our children, as 5-to 9-year-olds continue to be at the highest risk for developing Lyme disease.

A study published in April 2021 looked at the frequency of emergency room visits due to tick bites. The authors examined “ED tick bite visits during January 2017-December 2019 by sex, age group, U.S. region, and seasonality,” writes Marx et al. [2] Their findings revealed that tick bites on a child under the age of 9 accounted for the highest number of ED tick bite visits.

During a 36-month period, there were 149,364 ED tick bite visits. The incidence was highest in the Northeast with the larger peak occurring during the spring and early summer, the authors write.

The findings support previous studies which explored the incidence of tick bites among various age groups and the associated risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases.

In 2016, more than 3,000 ticks (n=3551) were submitted to the University of Massachusetts Laboratory of Medical Zoology, as part of a passive surveillance study. The vast majority of ticks provided over a 7–year period were Ixodes scapularis ticks (or blacklegged ticks) from Massachusetts (N ≡ 2088). [3]

Tick bites on a young child pose dangers

Investigators found that children under age 9 had the largest proportion of tick bites. According to Xu and colleagues, 39.7% were identified as nymphs, while 34.6% were adult ticks.

Nearly 200 ticks were collected from children under age 5. Another 200 ticks were collected from children ages 5 to 9. Nearly 90 ticks were collected from adolescents.

Deer ticks were the most common ticks attached to a child. Out of the 3,551 tick bites, 89% were due to deer ticks.

Additionally, 98% of the 1700 adult ticks submitted were female.

The overall infection rate for Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasmosis phagocytophilum, and Babesia microti in human-biting ticks were 29.6%, 4.6%, and 1.8%, respectively, writes Xu. Tick bites on a child may lead to more than Lyme disease.

The authors reported ticks harboring multiple infectious agents:

  • 1.8% were co-infected by B. burgdorferi and A. phagocytophilum;
  • 1.0% were co-infected by B. burgdorferi and B. microti;
  • 0.4% were co-infected by A. phagocytophilum and B. microti.

Triple co-infections were found in 0.3% of the ticks.

Note: The investigators did not check for other infections, such as Bartonella henselae or Borrelia miyamotoi.

When do tick bites on children occur?

Tick bites on a child occurred most frequently in the Spring and Fall when children are participating in school activities and sports, explains Xu.

According to the authors, 1700 adult ticks displayed two discrete peaks:

  • April – June peak (representing questing activity of the overwintering population)
  • October – December peak (representing large autumnal populations)

Between April and October, 360 nymphs were received, with a clear peak in June.

How effective are tick bite prevention methods?

According to several studies, prevention methods are failing our children. One of the most effective ways of measuring whether tick bite prevention methods are working is to monitor the number of tick bites that involve an engorged tick. [4] This is because ticks typically do not become engorged for at least 24 hours.

READ MORE: The dangers in being bitten by a partially fed tick (not fully engorged), where infection is postulated to occur in less than 6 hours. Have you been bitten by a partially fed tick? 

Unfortunately, Xu and colleagues found that 35.6% of ticks attached to children younger than 9-years-old were engorged.

This is particularly concerning given that an engorged tick increases your chances of developing Lyme disease by 20 times. [5]

Only 12% of children reported performing regular tick checks.

A school-based intervention program, offered to 1,562 elementary students, explored why children are more likely to get a tick bite. [6] The responses indicate a need for ongoing educational efforts on tick bite prevention measures.

Following are the responses to several of the questions:

How often do you check yourself for ticks?

  • 56.8% = sometimes
  • 12.0%  = always
  • 25.8% = usually

Who helps you check for ticks most of the time?

  • 77.8% = grown-up at home
  • 14.6% = themselves
  • 2.0% = grown-up at school checked for ticks
  • 4.4% = did not check at all

“As long as there are no effective measures for controlling tick populations and there is no vaccine available, we rely solely on health education and communication efforts to prevent tick bites and Lyme Borreliosis (LB)” writes Beaujean. [7]

“We call on researchers and funders to prioritize research in the field of public health interventions for tick bites and LB,” he writes, “because, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’”

UPDATED: June 21, 2021

  1. Bacon RM, Kugeler KJ, Mead PS. Surveillance for Lyme disease–United States, 1992-2006. MMWR Surveill Summ, 57(10), 1-9 (2008).
  2. Marx GE, Spillane M, Beck A, Stein Z, Powell AK, Hinckley AF. Emergency Department Visits for Tick Bites – United States, January 2017-December 2019. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Apr 30;70(17):612-616. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7017a2. PMID: 33914718; PMCID: PMC8084121.
  3. Xu G, Mather TN, Hollingsworth CS, Rich SM. Passive Surveillance of Ixodes scapularis (Say), Their Biting Activity, and Associated Pathogens in Massachusetts. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 16(8), 520-527 (2016).
  4. Falco RC, Fish D, Piesman J. Duration of tick bites in a Lyme disease-endemic area. Am J Epidemiol, 143(2), 187-192 (1996).
  5. Sood SK. Lyme disease in children. Infect Dis Clin North Am, 29(2), 281-294 (2015).
  6. Shadick NA, Zibit MJ, Nardone E, DeMaria A, Jr., Iannaccone CK, Cui J. A School-Based Intervention to Increase Lyme Disease Preventive Measures Among Elementary School-Aged Children. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 16(8), 507-515 (2016).
  7. Beaujean D, Crutzen R, Kengen C, van Steenbergen J, Ruwaard D. Increase in Ticks and Lyme Borreliosis, Yet Research into Its Prevention on the Wane. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis, 16(5), 349-351 (2016).


For more:

What Repels Ticks Naturally?

This article was originally published here but has been updated with new information.


what repels ticks naturally

Ticks patiently hold on to blades of grass and shrubs in a position known as “questing” as they await their next meal or host. “Almost blind, ticks rely on chemosensation to identify and locate hosts for a successful blood meal,” write the authors of “Behavioral responses of Ixodes scapularis tick to natural products: development of novel repellents.”¹


As the number of tick-borne diseases grows and the geographical spread of ticks continues, there is an increasing interest in what repels ticks naturally and which products are effective and safe to use.

Little is known about exactly how ticks detect odors and what smells repel them. “Improving our understanding of tick olfactory mechanisms and odor driven behaviors is key to enabling development of new repellents,” writes Faraone, lead author of the study.

The study examines the effectiveness of natural repellents, particularly plant-based repellents, explains Faraone. “Plant-derived essential oils are natural products that exhibit insecticidal and repellent activities and represent a promising alternative to synthetic repellants.”

Lemongrass essential oil

When researching looked at what repels ticks naturally, the authors found that in behavioral bioassays “lemongrass essential oil and its main chemical constituents (such as geraniol, β-citronellol and citral), as well as PEA [phenethyl alcohol], were significantly repellent to I. scapularis nymphs.”

“The efficacy of lemongrass essential oil was dose-related,” the authors explain. It was “effective in repelling up to 76% of I. scapularis nymphs after 10 minutes when applied at the highest tested concentration.”

The substance was more effective at higher concentrations in repelling ticks. But, the effect declined after 2 hours from the first application to 62.5% compared to a DEET-based product of 87.7%.

The authors did not report on the repellent effects outside the lab. And given that the formulation was proprietary, its ingredients were not disclosed.

However, they found that “PEA- and geraniol-based formulas exerted an effective repellent action representing a valid natural alternative to synthetic repellents already available on the market.”

Oregano, rosemary, spearmint and thyme oils 

In another study, Soutar et al. also addressed the question: what repels ticks naturally? They treated blankets and trousers with either 5% oregano, rosemary, spearmint or thyme oils or 20% DEET. They found, “The number of ticks present on the blankets or trousers differed significantly between treatments.”²

“Significantly fewer ticks” were found on the blankets and trousers treated with spearmint oil and on the blankets treated with oregano oil.

“For ticks that did attach to the trousers, the rate of drop off within 3 min was significantly higher for trousers treated with spearmint oil or thyme oil than ethanol, oregano oil and rosemary oil,” the authors write.

They conclude, “The results suggest that 5% oregano and spearmint oils exhibit potential as natural clothing repellents, with an effective equivalence to 20% DEET.”

Oil of lemon eucalyptus

Investigators used the lone star tick to test the efficacy of 4 commonly used ingredients in repellents:  DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.³  Repellency was tested after 3 and 6 hours.

They found that each repellent “significantly reduced” the number of tick engagements to fabric for at least 6 hours. There was not any significant difference in repellent efficacy between the 4 ingredients after 3 hours of application.

However, after 6 hours, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus repelled ticks more than the other ingredients.


DEET (diethyltoluamide) is not a natural tick repellent but like lemongrass essential oil, the concentration of DEET also impacts its ability to repel ticks, as shown below:

  • 0% of DEET = 8.5% repelled
  • 5% of DEET = 16.6% repelled
  • 10% of DEET = 30.4% repelled
  • 20% of DEET = 68.9% repelled
  • 40% of DEET = 88% repelled

Interestingly, 0% DEET repelled 8.5% of ticks at 10 minutes. This is similar to the placebo effect.

The actual concentration of DEET from the manufacturer is 25% to 30%. The actual concentration on the skin for DEET or the proprietary products was not described in the study.

Most importantly, the study was completed on a paper filter. It remains to be seen how DEET or the natural-based products will work on people.

UPDATED: 5/24/2021

  1. Faraone N, MacPherson S, Hillier NK. Behavioral responses of Ixodes scapularis tick to natural products: development of novel repellents. Exp Appl Acarol. 2019 Sep 28.
  2. Soutar O, Cohen F, Wall R. Essential oils as tick repellents on clothing. Exp Appl Acarol. 2019 Oct;79(2):209-219. doi: 10.1007/s10493-019-00422-z. Epub 2019 Oct 1. PMID: 31578646.
  3. Luker HA, Rodriguez S, Kandel Y, Vulcan J, Hansen IA. A novel Tick Carousel Assay for testing efficacy of repellents on Amblyomma americanum LPeerJ. 2021;9:e11138. Published 2021 Apr 21. doi:10.7717/peerj.11138


For more: 

Tick Research Lab of Pennsylvania Weekly Newsletter



The continued advice to sit around and “watch for signs of infection” is not helping patients. ILADS recommends consideration of prophylactic treatment for ALL black legged tick bites with a minimum of 20 days of doxycycline.

It’s also important to remember that Lyme is just the tip of the spear and ticks transmit 19+ pathogens, some of which can be transmitted within minutes. Also, other types of ticks transmit disease as well and need to be considered.

For more:

Removing Ticks: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Tick season is here! While most tick bites are harmless, some ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease. Knowing what steps to take following a tick bite can reduce your risk of infection.

Remove the embedded tick as soon as possible. The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of transmitting tick-borne illnesses.

Follow these steps:

  • Gently pull the tick out with tweezers by grasping its head as close to the skin as possible.
  • If the head remains, try to remove with a sterile needle.
  • Wash the bite site with soap and water. Rubbing alcohol may be used to disinfect the area.
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce pain.

Avoid the following:

  • Do not grab the tick at the rear of the body
  • Do not twist or jerk tick while pulling it out
  • Do not use alternative methods to remove it; such as fingernail polish, alcohol, petroleum products, or a hot match.

Identify the tick. Take note of the size and color of the tick, whether it was attached to the skin (ticks must bite you to spread their germs), if it was engorged (full of blood) and about how long it was attached. A healthcare provider may ask you these questions if you begin to experience symptoms.

Watch for symptoms. If signs of infection, rash or flu-like symptoms occur within 30 days of the tick bite, seek medical attention.

Remember, a tick that is crawling on you but has not attached to your skin cannot infect you. However, if you find one tick, there could be more. Check your body carefully and use these tips to prevent future bites. Prevention is the best medicine.

If you have questions regarding tick bites or bug bites, contact our 24/7 Nurse Advisor Line at (608) 775-4454.



A few points:

  • The statement “Most tick bites are harmless” is completely false.  Who could possibly estimate this risk?  Another great example of mainstream medicine downplaying a serious problem.
  • While it’s true that the longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk of infection, it must be reiterated that minimum attachment time for transmission has never been determined.  Please treat each and every tick bite as seriously as a heart attack.Research has shown partially fed ticks that drop off transmit diseases much more quickly.
  • Identifying the tick is always smart but a tick is a tick is a tick, and all to my knowledge all have the potential of transmitting disease to you (they exchange fluids with you).  Mainstream medicine is woefully behind the 8-ball on this and doesn’t even consider the multitude of other pathogens transmitted by ticks.  To date there are 19+ pathogens transmitted by ticks. All of them are serious.
  • The statement, “watch for symptoms,” is horrible advice.  This “wait and see” approach has been dooming patients to misery for decades.  ILADS recommends prophylactic treatment for each and every black-legged tick bite.  
  • While the article doesn’t mention getting tested, many don’t understand that testing for tick-borne illness is abysmal, and often gives negative results when people are infected.
  • While some doctors will treat early with doxycycline if you are bitten by a black-legged tick and have the bullseye rash, I’ve had multiple patients report to me they were sent home empty-handed.  My advice is to pound the pavement until you find someone willing to treat you.  Time is of the essence.
  • I can’t emphasize the importance of Lyme literate doctors, who are trained by ILADS and diagnose patients clinically as they understand and appreciate the limits of serology testing.  ILADS recommends:
    • Based on animal studies, ILADS recommends that known blacklegged tick bites be treated with 20 days of doxycycline (barring any contraindications).
    • Given the low success rates in trials treating EM rashes for 20 or fewer days, ILADS recommends: that patients receive 4-6 weeks of doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime. A minimum of 21 days of azithromycin is also acceptable, especially in Europe. All patients should be reassessed at the end of their initial therapy and, when necessary, antibiotic therapy should be extended.
    • ILADS recommends that patients with persistent symptoms and signs of Lyme disease be evaluated for other potential causes before instituting additional antibiotic therapy.
    • ILADS recommends antibiotic retreatment when a chronic Lyme infection is judged to be a possible cause of the ongoing manifestations and the patient has an impaired quality of life.

For more on prevention:

Remember, in Wisconsin, ticks are found in every county in the state. Researchers are also finding them in bright, open, mowed lawns.