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Summer Is Tick Season

Prevention and early detection are keys to disease avoidance

Now that summer is here, ticks are active. Parents need to take precautions, as ticks can spread several diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and others. Incidences of each disease vary by region, but the techniques for lowering your chance of contracting any tick-borne disease are the same.

The easiest way to prevent a tick bite is to stay out of areas where ticks live. However, that's not always possible, especially for the avid camper, hiker, hunter, fisherman or even the weekend gardener.

  • If you or your child are going to be in a wooded area where ticks are present, the best protection is a good insect repellent that contains at least 25 percent DEET.

  • Having your child wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into his socks also helps create a tick barrier, while light colored clothing will make it easier to spot ticks that you or your child may pick up along the way.

  • To limit exposure, backpackers, campers and hunters should avoid brushy areas if possible. For example setting up camp in a clearing is a good practice to help reduce the chance of encountering ticks.

  • A new way to fight ticks is by spraying clothing, socks, shoes and even tents with a tick repellant, like Buggspray Insect Repellent for Ticks, which safely turns fabric into a shield that will repel and kill ticks for more than two weeks even after repeated laundering. Simply spray the product on your clothes and allow them to dry before wearing. Using a combination of DEET-based repellents on exposed skin and insect repellent clothing may virtually eliminate the risk of tick and mosquito bites.

Check frequently for ticks

Regardless of the precautions you and your child take while enjoying outdoor activities, it is still good practice to frequently check for ticks and remove them promptly. By doing so, you can greatly reduce the risk that you or your child will contract a disease even if bitten. Look for ticks at the hairline, behind the ears as well as behind knees, at the waistline, and in armpits.

If you find a tick on your body, removing it correctly and promptly is key.

  • If possible, use a tweezers to grasp the tick forward of its head as close to the skin as possible.

  • Gently and steadily pull the tick outward until it releases, being careful not to break off the head and mouth. The mouthparts themselves do not generally transmit disease, however they may sometimes cause a secondary infection.
  • Wash your hands and the wound area with soap and water after removal and handling a tick.

  • Don't use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove a tick - these "remedies" are not effective and may be harmful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website is a good resource for additional information on tick-borne disease prevention and details specific diseases associated with certain ticks found regionally in the United States, tick identification as well as diagnosis and treatment.