If you’re planning on celebrating Christmas next week, there’s one health and safety related news item that should definitely be on your radar. Although it’s unlikely to be a huge issue, Mother Nature may give some families an unwelcome gift as they begin to put up their Christmas trees.
Due to the surprisingly warm weather we have experienced during the past few fall months, health officials are warning that the Christmas trees being purchased this season may be carrying unwanted travelers into our homes – including ticks and mites.
While the news is, quite frankly, gross, it does not need to mean that Christmas is canceled! In fact, most health officials feel that there’s no reason to fret too much about this news, as it’s always possible for hibernating bugs to travel on our Christmas trees, no matter what the weather may be. It does mean, however, that families should be on alert if they plan on purchasing a real Christmas tree this season.
Understanding Tick Bites: The Basics
The main reason to be aware of possible stowaways this Christmas season is that ticks are known for sometimes biting humans. Once considered an “outdoors only” problem, tick bites – or, specifically, bacteria-infected tick bites – becoming a larger problem. Part of the reason for this is that it’s easier for ticks to travel through residential areas, particularly if they catch a ride with local deer. With cases of Lyme disease on the rise in Allegheny County, it’s clear that ticks are definitely finding their way into our lives more and more.
While there are things that can be done to address the risk of tick bites during the summer, we tend to not worry about this type of prevention during the winter. With ticks possibly hitching a ride on Christmas trees, however, this is now one health that cannot be ignored or forgotten until next summer!
What You Can Do This Holiday Season
While experts generally don’t think there’s a need to go overboard in tick prevention efforts this season – particularly since many Christmas tree lots will catch problems with trees before they’re sold – it certainly won’t hurt to brush up on your tick recognition skills. Specifically, we recommend monitoring for any signs of tick bites during the next few months. Again, there’s no need to fret too much, as many tick bites are harmless. But, since some bites can include treatable bacteria, being able to recognize the signs of a bite is still important. Taking the time to check your spouse, kids, and pets for ticks is also a good idea, just in case.
If the idea of bugs in your tree make your skin crawl too much to ignore, experts recommend simply but vigorously shaking a tree out before you put it up in your home – or, if that’s not enough, you can even hose it down with water and leave it outside to dry. Experts do not recommend spraying Christmas trees to kill ticks, however, as Aerosol insect sprays are flammable – a bad combination with a Christmas tree!
Don’t Worry And Enjoy Your Holidays!
While the headlines about ticks in trees are admittedly not something anyone wants to read, the good news is that experts agree that there is no reason to worry too much this holiday season. By monitoring and checking for signs of ticks, and by being aware of this potential issue, you can take action to ensure that your holiday season isn’t ruined by any creepy crawlies.