Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of people and animals. They can pass serious diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to both people and pets, which is why it’s important to learn how to avoid and detect them.
You’ll find ticks in warmer climates, deep brush and moisture-rich areas. They are most active in spring and summer. They find their hosts by detecting body heat, moisture and vibration.
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or fall from trees. Instead, they latch onto hosts, usually on the lower legs, from areas like grass and fallen leaves.
Tick bites usually don’t hurt or itch–that’s why they’re the perfect disease-spreaders.
If you get a tick bite and develop the following symptoms below within a few weeks, see your doctor. The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses include:
- Aches and pains. Tick-borne diseases can cause headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain.
- Rash. Some, but not all, tick bites develop a rash (some rashes may look like a bulls-eye). And all rashes are not alike. If you have any type of suspicious rash with the above symptoms, call your doctor.
Been walking in the woods or a grassy area? When you get home:
- Put your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes to kill any lingering ticks
- Wash your clothes in hot water
- Carefully inspect your body and quickly remove any ticks
- Check your body, head, hair, ears, armpits, belly button, waist, behind knees and in groin areas
- Take a shower to help wash off any unattached ticks
Remember to check your pets for ticks, especially after going outside!
Did you find a tick?
Removing a tick as soon as you find it can reduce the chance of infection. Here’s how:
- Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible
- Pull up gently but with steady, even pressure
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause parts of the tick to break off and remain in the skin
- After removing the tick, carefully clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water
- Never crush a tick with your fingers!
- Get rid of the tick by putting it in alcohol, into a sealed bag/container, or flushing it down the toilet
Proactive tick prevention
There are steps you can take to help prevent ticks from choosing you as their host. Before venturing outside:
- Wear light clothing
- Tuck your pants into your socks
- Wear closed-toed shoes
- Avoid overgrown areas with brush and debris
- Use repellants with at least 20% DEET (10% or less for children)
Early detection & treatment is key
Taking these steps can help keep you, your children and your pets safe. Contact your doctor immediately if you have (or think you have) a tick bite. For more information, go to: CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/