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If you live on the northeast coast, chances are you’re already familiar with ticks. If you live in Ocean County, NJ and you’re not tick aware, you should be! Three of the seven American tick species known to bite people can be found in Ocean County. Each of these three species — dog tick, blacklegged tick, and lone star tick — can spread diseases with their bite, including a disease that is plaguing New Jersey: Lyme disease. With the second highest number of cases in the country (Pennsylvania takes the top spot), Lyme disease and tick awareness are crucial for Ocean County residents who want to stay healthy while still enjoying outdoor activities during the summer months.

Top 3 Towns With Ticks

According to the most recent Ocean County Master Gardeners Tick Report, tick counts in the summer of 2016 reached a five-year high in the county. Here’s a breakdown of the top 3 Ocean County towns where ticks were collected:

3. Jackson

Named after President Andrew Jackson, Jackson, NJ might be best known for its Six Flags Great Adventure park, which houses the world’s tallest roller coaster, the fearsome Kingda Ka. If you’re a hiker or birdwatcher who enjoys spending time in the township’s Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area, you’ll need to be tick aware during and after your outdoor adventuring.

2. Brick

With lots of coastline in its geography, grassy and weedy areas in Brick make for prime tick habitats, even in residents’ own backyards.

1. Toms River

Far and away the number one NJ township for tick counts in 2016, Toms River had more than twice the number of ticks than Brick and Jackson combined. The popular Cattus Island County Park is loved for its expansive trails and seaside views, but is less favorably known for its high tick populations in May and June.

Being Tick Aware

When spending time in public parks or outdoor adventuring, the best ways to prevent tick bites is by wearing long sleeved clothing, and tucking in shirts and pant legs to minimize exposed skin. Most people assume they will know if they’ve been bitten by a tick. Large, engorged adults can be quite easy to identify, but immature nymphs are only about half the size of their adult counterparts, making them more difficult to spot. The good news is that a tick needs to be attached and feeding for more than 24 hours to pass on Lyme disease (and in most cases more than 72 hours), so a daily tick check after spending time outside in wooded or grassy areas will greatly reduce your risk of contracting any diseases.

Lyme Disease: What To Look For

Common early signs of Lyme disease include headache, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, or a rash at the site you were bitten, sometimes with a distinctive bullseye pattern. As Lyme disease progresses, symptoms worsen and can include severe headaches, arthritis with joint pain and swelling (especially in knees and other large joints), heart palpitations, facial paralysis, dizziness, and difficulty thinking. Both early and later stage lyme disease can be eradicated by a proper course of antibiotics, but long-term damage to the joints and nervous system is possible if not caught early.

Tick Prevention At Home

If you’re concerned about ticks in your own backyard, implementing a tick control regimen is the best way to ensure your family’s risk of contracting Lyme disease is kept to a minimum. While harsh chemical methods that use pyrethrins may be effective in killing ticks, they can be harmful to bee populations and are toxic to cats. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly alternative to keeping ticks out of your Ocean County yard, Bite Control offers 100% organic solutions that kill ticks and will keep your family safe from Lyme disease this summer.

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