A recent article for Men’s Health, titled 9 Things That May Make It More Likely You’ll Find a Ticks Crawling On You This Summer claims tick populations are on the rise. Are these factors raising your risk?
Experts predict that 2017 will bring the highest number of ticks seen in years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s due in part to warmer-than-usual temperatures, preventing some of the ticks from dying over the winter—and providing ample feeding opportunities for their larvae so the population can grow.
So it makes sense that you’d want to do what you can to keep the bloodsuckers away from you. But as one new study published in Zoonoses Public Health finds, some things you have inside and around your house might be upping your odds of finding a tick on you.
In the study of 2,727 households, researchers wanted to see whether owning a pet raised the likelihood of bringing ticks to humans. They discovered that households with a dog or a cat were nearly twice as likely to report finding a tick crawling on any one member, and about 50 percent more likely to say they’ve actually noticed a tick attached to someone in their family.
In fact, 31 percent of households with pets said they saw ticks crawling on their human members, compared to 20 percent of those without pets. And 19 percent of pet owners reported actually seeing a tick attached, compared to 14 percent of no-pet households.
The big problem with ticks doesn’t really come from them crawling on you—the ticks need to be attached to you for a fair amount of time in order for them to transmit germs in their saliva, like the bacteria that cause Lyme, says Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of TickEncounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island, who was not involved in the study. In most cases, ticks need to be attached to you for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme bacteria.
Interestingly, the study found that use of tick control meds on the pets didn’t help cut the chances of finding ticks on or attached to humans. But animals weren’t the only things that were upping the odds of finding a tick—factors around your home could play a role, too.
Households with a vegetable garden, flower garden, compost pile, log pile, bird feeder, stone wall, children’s play equipment, or an outdoor sitting area were more likely to report finding a tick crawling on a human member.
Pets may bring ticks on to the property, and people with pets may be more likely to engage in outdoor activities that bring the owners in greater potential contact with the tick habitat. And things like birdfeeders can attract rodents to the property, which may introduce ticks as well.
Also, it’s important to note that having pets or finding ticks on pets was not linked to an increase in human tickborne disease.
So How Can You Stay Tick-Safe?
In the meantime, the best way to keep yourself safe from ticks is to play the preventive game: Spray yourself with a DEET insect repellant (like OFF! Deep Woods Sportsman) before going into a wooded area. Perform a tick check when you come inside. Ticks love moist skin folds, so pay close attention to under your arms, inside your belly button, and between your legs, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read the entire article 9 Things That May Make It More Likely You’ll Find a Tick Crawling On You This Summer that originally appeared on Men’s Health.