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Prevention is key in fight against tick-borne diseases

Posted June 23, 2017

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a tick on a leaf
The female lone star tick. While not all ticks carry the same diseases, ticks can be found in every state. (Photo courtesy of Centers for Disease Control)

Tickborne diseases are on the rise and prevention should be on everyone’s mind, particularly during the summer and early fall when ticks are most active.

From May through July, people will get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States. It’s especially important to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones (including pets) from ticks during this season, as well as any time during warmer months when you’re outside.

Lyme disease is the most widely-known disease carried by ticks. Other less known, but serious tickborne diseases include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus and babesiosis.

Protect against ticks

Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Whether you’re working, enjoying your yard, camping, hiking, hunting or otherwise in the outdoors, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that people:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and to some tick-borne diseases. They may also bring ticks into your home. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos or monthly “top spot” medications help protect against ticks.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away.
  • Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

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