Lyme disease prevention: How to protect yourself from ticks

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Consumer expert Chelsey Hernandez explains how to protect your family and pets from ticks. (KTRK)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diseases from tick bites are on the rise. But there are simple things you can do to protect you and your family.

Lyme Disease is the most common. The CDC estimates that about 300,000 Americans develop Lyme each year, and we could see even more this year.

"One theory is that warmer weather and longer seasons means that there is a longer period of time for ticks to be active. Another theory is that the spread of ticks' hosts, so mainly deer, is getting bigger. They are in more places, which means ticks are in more places, which means that we have a great chance of running across them," said Catherine Roberts, a Consumer Reports Health Editor.

The best way to avoid a tick-borne infection is not to get bitten in the first place by always using an effective insect repellent.

Consumer Reports put them to the test. Look for products that contain between 15 and 30 percent DEET, an active ingredient in insect repellents. You should also look for products containing 20 percent Picaridin, another insect repellent, or 30 percent lemon eucalyptus oil.

You'll also want to make your yard less attractive to ticks. Consumer Reports says keep your lawn mowed, remove leaves and other debris, and try to let as much sun into your yard as possible.

A border of wood chips or bark-style mulch around your property can also help create a barrier to keep ticks from entering.

"When you're in wooded areas, you want to make sure to wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes, and it's a good idea to tuck your pants into your socks," said Roberts.

After you've been outside, throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill any ticks that may be hanging on.
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