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Friday, June 1, 2012

Preventing Tick Bites

Summer is here.  It’s the season to spend more time outdoors and with the outdoors, comes the possibility of ticks.  Ticks carry many diseases so it’s important to avoid them as much as possible.

Here are some suggestions from the CDC for dealing with ticks this summer:

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
-Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
-Walk in the center of trails.

Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin
-Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
-Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
-Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be found at http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
-Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
-Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
-Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

If you find a tick on your body, here is the tick removal recommendation from the CDC:

-Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
-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.
-After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Don’t use any of the folk remedies that have gone around over the years.  The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible and tweezers are the best way to do that.  Here’s a link to the instructions from the CD that has diagrams of the tweezers technique:  http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

Here is a diagram from the CDC of the stages and relative sizes of ticks:

Here’s an excellent link from the CDC for the prevention of tick bites: Stop Ticks (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Other links:

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Tick-Borne Diseases: The Big Two (MedlinePlus Magazine)

For Children:

Hey! A Tick Bit Me! (Nemours Foundation)

Tick Tactics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

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