Tick Prevention, Treatment, and Vital Information

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Lyme disease · Rocky Mountain spotted fever · Babesiosis · Ehrlichiosis · Tularemia · Anaplasmosis · Colorado Tick Fever · Powassan encephalitis · African cattle disease · Tick-borne relapsing fever · Southern tick-associated rash illness

Exotic sounding diseases like these are usually associated with Hollywood movies where highly contagious, deadly pathogens that come from the jungles of Africa or a remote village in Asia spark an epidemic that threatens the world’s population. But, in reality they’re all tick-borne diseases that can be acquired in the US.

If bitten by a tick one should seek medical care if:

The victim exhibits any weakness, paralysis, lethargy, fever, numbness, headache, or rashes.

The tick cannot be removed, or the head and mouthparts remain in the victim.

Pregnant women should inform doctors of tick bites, particularly before they take medications.

Immunosuppressed victims (e.g. people who are HIV positive or who have cancer or who are receiving chemotherapy) should inform their doctors of tick bites.

Tick removal Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do NOT try to burn the tick out of your body or suffocate it by covering it in nail polish, gas, etc. These methods may induce the tick to vomit pathogen-containing secretions into the victim.

Remove the entire tick including the head and mouthparts. If any part of the tick is still embedded in the victim’s body, there is a greater likelihood of disease transmission.

Use tweezers to remove the tick and wear gloves to help prevent spreading diseases.

Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the victim’s skin as possible and apply gentle, consistent pressure to pull the tick out of the victim’s body.

Do NOT twist or rotate the tick as you pull. This increases the chances that the tick’s mouthparts or head will break away from the body, thus leaving them embedded in the victim and increasing the chance of infection.

Once removed do NOT crush the tick as this increases the chances of infection. Instead flush it down the toilet or put it in a sealed plastic bag to show a doctor if you become ill from the bite.

Thoroughly clean and disinfect the bite area with soap and water or a mild disinfectant. Observe the area for the next few days for a reaction to the bite, such as a rash or signs of an infection.

Wash your hands and disinfect the tweezers when done.

Tick bite prevention:

Avoid grassy areas and shrubs where ticks are typically found.

Wear light-colored clothes so ticks can easily be seen.

Tuck pants into boots or socks.

Be sure to check for ticks immediately after exposure to areas where they may reside.

Shower or bathe as soon as possible when exposed to areas where ticks may reside.

Be sure to follow directions when applying insect repellents.

Check that the insect repellent you use specifically repels ticks.

Avoid using repellants that contain high concentrations of DEET on children.

If the DEET concentrations in the repellent are 15 percent or less then it may be suitable for children.

Repellents that contain permethrins (kill ticks on contact) may be applied to clothing but NOT to skin.

In areas where the chances of being bitten by a tick are high, DEET-containing repellents may need to be reapplied more frequently than when used for repelling mosquitoes.

Commercially available pre-treated clothing with repellent retains effectiveness for up to 70 washes.


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