Why it’s Critical to Tick-Proof Yourself Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Do not let your guard down. Tick-borne diseases are rampant, but there are steps to take to prevent infection

As the weather improves, COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen, and we all head afield fishing and hunting, it’s critical to be hyper-vigilant of a previous scourge which might have slipped our minds amid the Coronavirus pandemic: ticks. No matter what their variety, disease-carrying ticks are at their worst throughout much of the country in May. To complicate matters further, many tick-borne illnesses mimic the symptoms of COVID-19.

According to a recent online post from indyeastend.com, flu-like symptoms characterize each.

“That’s adding another dimension to this whole thing,” said Brian Kelly, owner of East End Tick & Mosquito Control. “People think, do I have COVID-19? Do I have Lyme disease? That will be another problem for the doctors to figure out. People need to remember to do tick checks and to use a tick repellent.”

clothes to be treated for ticks.
Hang the clothing outside for treatment. Bill Bailey

To make matters worse, there is little to no research available on either simultaneous infections from either virus (COVID-19 and tick-borne) nor about the effects of COVID-19 on tick-borne illness.

So, now is the time to pull out hardcore tick-prevention protocol. Southern New England is undoubtedly a tick hotspot. In some parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, research indicates that more than 60 percent of ticks carry Lyme Disease. To combat tick bites, Bill Bailey of Otis, Mass., abides by a rigorous yet simple blueprint for tick prevention.

“Nothing, of course, is 100 percent all the time,” says Bailey. “But I haven’t had a tick bite in more than two years and it’s rare that I even have one crawling on me.”

Man spraying permethrin on clothes.
Spray front and back with Permethrin or other preferred tick spray. Bill Bailey

Permethrin insecticide, he prefers the Sawyers brand, is at the base of his defensive measures. Here’s his formula for success.

1. First of all, never spray Pemethrin indoors or on your skin. Take your clothing outside, lay your garments out (turkey hunters should remember to spray gloves, hats, socks, and even boots) and spray each side of your outerwear.

Man spraying permethrin on clothes.
Hang clothing on a stout hanger. Bill Bailey

2. Hang the clothing on a hanger and cover with a larger contractor trash bag.

3. Force all the air out of the trash bag and wrap the opening with duct tape.

A bag with a can of permethrin.
Store in a sealed garbage bag for several days prior to wearing. Bill Bailey

4. For best results, hang the bag in a garage or a shed for several days prior to wearing. According to the manufacturer, one treatment will last up to six weeks.

“It’s been my go-to technique for a couple of years now,” says Bailey. “It works very well—and has for other guys as well.”