Beware of Ticks and Tickborne IllnessesSubmitted by the Guilford County Dept. of Public Health / July 7, 2017
Summer is a time to enjoy the great outdoors and explore beautiful, fun-filled travel destinations. The Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Division would like to remind everyone that it’s also a time when ticks are active. Ticks are most active April through September throughout the United States with the most tick bites and tickborne disease occurring in May through July. Protecting your family and pets from ticks and the diseases transmitted through tick bites are important any time of the year that you and your family or pets are active outdoors.
Why be concerned about ticks and tick bites? Ticks can be infected with many different bacterial diseases. Two of the most common and well-known tickborne diseases are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease which can easily be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick.
To prevent tick bites and decrease chances of direct contact with ticks:
- Avoid wooded, brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use a repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family at: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to find and wash off crawling ticks before they bite you.
- Conduct a full body search on yourself, children and pets. Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives for your pet.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that might have attached to your clothing.
Remove ticks as quickly as possible. To remove a tick, 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, which could cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Wash the bite area with soap and water, then disinfect with rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in rubbing alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag (to throw in the garbage) or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your finger, you can expose yourself to tickborne disease by doing this. Avoid “painting” the tick with fingernail polish or petroleum jelly. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible, not wait for it to die and detach.
Many tick-borne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, see your health care provider immediately: Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, or a circular rash (target or “bulls-eye”) occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons.
Take these precautions to avoid ticks and enjoy your outdoor plans.