2010-04-24 / News

Protect yourself from ticks

NEWARK – The Licking County Health Department reminds residents that now is the time to take precautions to protect themselves from tick borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. These diseases can cause serious health problems and with some simple steps, you can protect yourself and your loved ones when outside this spring and summer.

Tick populations are highest between April and August, when the adult tick is looking for large hosts such as humans and dogs. Ticks are found in areas with high weeds such as overgrown lots, along roadsides, bike paths and hiking trails. During the spring and summer months, adult ticks hide in areas of high vegetation and attach themselves to a host when they make contact with the vegetation. Ticks will cling to fur or clothing and crawl upward, looking for a place to attach and begin feeding.

It is important to avoid areas that may be infested with ticks, and also to keep your pets away from these areas as well. If you are active in areas where ticks may be found, it is important to inspect yourself and your pets for ticks soon after so that any ticks can be removed as soon as possible.

Tips for Prevention of Tickborne Disease:

• Avoid tick infested areas.

• If exposure is unavoidable, tuck pants into sock tops or boots.

• Wear light-colored clothing to make it easier to identify crawling ticks.

• Use repellants and follow label instructions carefully.

• Check children for ticks frequently.

• Use caution when handling ticks and dispose of properly.

Tips for Proper Tick Removal:

• If a tick is attached, remove it as soon as possible; this reduces your risk of infection.

• Shield fingers with a paper towel or use tweezers, and grasp the tick close to the skin. While applying steady pressure, pull the tick straight up and out.

• Do not twist or jerk the tick, this may cause the mouth parts to be left in the skin.

• Do not crush or puncture the tick.

• Do not use a flame or cigarette to remove a tick, this may cause the tick to burst and increase disease risk.

• After removing a tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands with soap and water.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can include high fever, headache, and muscle pain, and symptoms of Lyme Disease can include a red ringlike rash, fever, fatigue and joint pain. If you develop these types of symptoms following tick contact, you should see your physician for treatment. It is important to receive the appropriate medications as soon as possible to reduce the risk of serious health effects from tick-borne diseases.

For more information, contact the Licking County Health Department at 740-349-6535 or visit www.lickingcohealth.org

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