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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Protect Yourself from Ticks this Summer

Summer is here and with summer comes more outdoor activities and more chance of coming in contact with ticks. Ticks can be in woods, tall grass, and many other areas. It’s important to protect yourself from ticks since they can cause many illnesses.

Tips to protect yourself from ticks:

- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin

- Wear light-colored protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants)

- Tuck pant legs into socks

- Avoid tick-infested areas

- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find

If you find that a tick has attached itself to you, it’s important to remove it immediately. The best method for removing ticks is using tweezers. Here is some guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

How to remove a tick

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.

2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

There are many illnesses caused by tick bites. Many tickborne illnesses have common symptoms:

- A skin rash

- Fever/chills

- Headache

- Muscle pain

- Stiff neck

- Swelling of knees and other large joints

It can be hard to diagnose a tickborne illness since these symptoms are vague and can be caused by any number of things. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

For more information on tick bites and tickborne illness, check out these web sites:

Ticks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) This site has some great illustrations of the different kinds of ticks: Tick Life Cycle and Hosts

Tick Removal (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Tickborne Diseases (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

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