ITHACA, N.Y. — Spring is here and so are the ticks! It’s time to get outside and enjoy the season. It’s also time to take steps to prevent tick-borne infection.
New tick-borne infections have been discovered in recent years and are steadily increasing, Lyme disease being the most commonly reported. Most tick-borne infections, including Lyme disease, can be successfully treated with antibiotics especially if medication is started early. Preventing tick bites is your best defense against tick-borne infection.
Ticks may be different sizes depending on their stage of life. Nymphs are very active in spring and are about the size of a poppy seed, making them hard to spot. Ticks live in shaded, moist areas at ground level. They cling to tall grass, brush, and shrubs, at the edge of woods, along trails, in leaf piles and around old stone walls, waiting for a passerby to come along so they can climb aboard.
Here are important steps to keep in mind:
- Wear light-colored clothing and enclosed shoes. Tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants when walking in wooded and grassy areas or when gardening.
- Use repellents with 20%-30% DEET. Be sure to follow label directions. Do not allow children to apply repellents themselves.
Shower after being outdoors. Put clothing into the dryer to kill any remaining ticks that you may not have seen.
- Do a daily full body tick check. Pay close attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, scalp, arm pits, groin area and back. Check children and pets too.
- Remove a tick within 36 hours to decrease the chance of infection.
- Use a pair of fine tipped tweezers, grasping the tick near the mouthparts, as close to your skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
- Often people are not aware of a tick bite until symptoms appear. These may include severe fatigue, flu-like symptoms, headache, fever, joint swelling, facial paralysis or rash. Some people may experience a sudden red lesion, “bull’s-eye rash,” on their body. If you experience these symptoms, contact your health provider as soon as possible.
To learn more about Tick-borne infection, call the Tompkins County Health Department at 274-6604 or visit the Department’s website: www.tompkinscountyny.gov/health and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TompkinsPublicHealth/.