It is that time of year again to be vigilant regarding ticks and take preventative measures, particularly now that the warmer weather is here, the advises residents.
You can reduce your risk of encountering ticks by avoiding tall grass and wooded areas, as well as the perimeter of your house and property where leaf piles, shrubs and low-lying plants occur.
If that is not possible take the following precautions to decrease the risk of tick attachment and thus the potential for Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin, following all label precautions. This will also help prevent mosquito bites.
- Wear long pants, tucking them into your socks and closed-toe shoes.
- Treat your clothing (particularly shoes and socks) with permethrin, which kills ticks.
- Do a body check after coming in from outdoor activity. If possible, have someone check the back of your head and body as well as the front.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you can after coming indoors. Usually, ticks must be attached to your body for 24-36 hours to spread disease to you.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can come into the home on clothing, backpacks, and other items as well.
If you find a tick attached, remove it by using fine-tipped tweezers grasping the tick at the head and pull straight out. Wash the bite area with soap and warm water.
It does no good to test the tick; the tick could carry Lyme or other diseases, but there is no guarantee that you would be infected. The most important factor is how long the tick has fed. You should seek medical advice if you think the tick has been on for more than two days.
The early symptoms of Lyme disease are flu-like. You may or may not get a rash; the shape of a Lyme disease rash is not always a “bull’s eye.”
The best indicator is whether a rash expands in size over the course of a day or two. If it does not, it is probably not Lyme disease.
Other signs include extreme fatigue, muscle aches, and headaches. Always consult your healthcare provider for any of these signs and symptoms, particularly if accompanied by fever for more than two days.
Most tick-borne diseases are very treatable in the early stages and most people recover quickly and completely.
Enjoy the warm weather, worry-free of ticks.