The BLAST program focuses on the five most effective behaviors based on the latest research from the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at Yale University and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. The program teaches the public how to: 1) avoid tick bites, 2) find and remove ticks safely and effectively if they do get bit; and 3) recognize symptoms of Lyme disease and seek timely treatment.
The BLAST program uses a catchy acronym that residents can use to remember ways to prevent tick bites, reduce tick abundance, and reduce their families’ risk of acquiring Lyme disease. The BLAST message is:
B athe soon after spending time outdoors. Data from a recent study conducted by the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at Yale University has shown that people who did not contract Lyme disease were nearly twice as likely to shower or bathe within 2 hours after spending time in their yards as people who did get Lyme disease (Connally, Durante, Yousey-Hindes, Meek, Nelson & Heimer, 2009).
L ook over your body every day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 60-80 percent of people who get Lyme disease get an expanding red-rash known as erythema migrans (EM). The EM rash may occur at or near the site of the tick bite, but not always. Unfortunately, this rash is painless and can often go unnoticed, and will eventually disappear. EM rash is typically the first sign that one has contracted Lyme disease. One should also LOOK for other signs and symptoms of Lyme disease, such as fever and aching joints (Steere, 2001).
In addition, one should inspect his or her body daily for ticks. It takes a blacklegged tick a minimum of 24 hours to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to humans (Piesman, Mather, & Sinsky, 1991; Piesman, Mather, Sinsky, & Spielman, 1987). Therefore, performing tick checks on one’s self or one’s children every day can prevent disease transmission. Two research studies have show that tick checks were performed more frequently amongst people who did not get Lyme disease than people who did get the disease. (Connally et al., 2009; Orloski, Campbell, Genese, Beckley, Schriefer, & Spitalny et al., 1998; Smith, Wileyto, Hopkins, Cherry, Maher, 2001).
A pply repellent. Studies have shown that applying DEET-based repellent (30% DEET or higher) to your skin or clothing is effective at repelling blacklegged ticks (Bug Off, 1993; Buzz Off, 2000). Clothing treated with permethrin can be washed several times and still retain its repellent properties. Safety information about these products are provided to the public (Schreck, Snoddy, Spielman, 1986).
S pray your yard to reduce ticks. Homeowners should consider the benefits of applying pesticide to the perimeter of their yards. Studies have shown that even one application of pesticide in the appropriate locations of the yard and at the appropriate time of year can reduce blacklegged tick populations by 85-90 percent. (Curran, Fish, & Piesman, 1993; Stafford, 1991; Stafford, 1997). Although one can hire a professional to apply such chemicals to their properties, there are many effective pesticides that homeowners can buy at their local garden centers. These pesticides are approved for safety and efficacy if applied according to package directions. Safety information about these products are provided to the public.
T reat your pets for ticks. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), 63 percent of all U.S. households own a pet. Some studies have shown that owning a dog or cat can increase one’s tick for getting Lyme Disease (Wormser, Dattwyler, Shapiro, Halperin, Steere, Klempner, & Krause, et al., 2006). In addition, cats and dogs can also get sick with Lyme Disease. We emphasize the importance of treating pets to reduce human exposure to blacklegged ticks.