Keeping Crews Safe from Tick Bites
Last month was Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and according to the Centers of Disease Control, over 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with the disease each year. With these warmer months, it’s more important than ever to put prevention measures in place for your crew to ensure they stay protected while working outdoors.
What exactly is Lyme Disease?
If you’re not familiar with the disease, it is one transmitted by blacklegged ticks (more commonly referred to as deer ticks) and once contracted will always remain in your body. The disease has also been found to reside mainly in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Primary symptoms of the disease include:
- Rash (usually a bullseye-type where the tick bite occurred)
- Facial Paralysis
- Muscle and Joint Aches
- Swollen lymph nodes
How can you prevent Lyme Disease?
With your crew oftentimes working outdoors during the warmer months, it’s important to educate them and set measures in place to help prevent contraction. Educate them on things like where ticks typically like hide to better attached themselves to a host (Ex. tall grass and bushes), or what areas of a host they tend to attach to. For example, they prefer moist shady areas, which is why people will oftentimes find ticks in their hair and armpits.
Some other protocols you can put in place to prevent your employees from contracting the disease on the job include:
- Permethrin-Treated Clothing: Encourage your employees to wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin, a form of insecticide. Stores like L.L. Bean sell this kind of clothing knowing that their customer base is frequently outdoors.
- Use Repellent and Reapply: Not everyone will be able to purchase the kind of clothing that’s been treated with permethrin, so provide other types of repellents for your employees. For tick repellent in particular, it’s good to get one that has 20% more DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide). Require that they apply this before going out into a field where ticks are prominent.
- Conduct a Tick Check: At the end of the day, also require that your team does a quick tick check to ensure people aren’t going home with one attached to them. People are most at risk if the tick has been attached anywhere from 36-48 hours so don’t give it a chance to be attached for any longer then needed.
So what do you do if you do find a tick?
If you’ve noticed a tick on an employee, act quickly and follow the steps provided by the Centers of Disease Control below if possible.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Another bonus point recommended in this article by NPR suggests actually keeping the tick in a sealed ziplock bag so it can be tested for Lyme Disease later should there be an issues.
If the employee notices a rash, instruct them to go to the doctor immediately and tell the doctor they’ve been bitten by a tick to be treated accordingly. However, a rash does not always occur so if they’re noticing flu-like symptoms, recommend they go to a doctor and mention the tick bite.
The prevention techniques mentioned above could save both your employees and dealership time and money in the long-run. As the months continue to warm up, be sure to make these steps a priority!