Tick activity, including tick bites and related illnesses, are on the rise in 2021. Experts say the mild 2020 – 2021 winter is at least partially to blame. Ticks thrive in a humid environment, so areas that experienced a warmer, wetter winter this past season are primed for more ticks this summer.
Whether you plan to be outdoors in your backyard or camping in the woods, there are plenty of ways to prevent tick bites and possible illness.
Before going outdoors
- Know where to expect ticks. They live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas.
- Treat your clothing and gear. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, you can treat your outdoor gear and clothes with products that contain .5% permethrin, which will last through several washings.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellant on anyone over 3-years-old.
- Avoid contact with ticks by staying on trails and avoiding areas with high grass and leaf litter.
When returning inside make sure to check pets, clothing, and gear for any signs of ticks. Taking a shower as soon as possible after returning inside can help wash away any ticks that may have made their way inside and give you an opportunity to do a body check for ticks. Make sure you check yourself and others in your home, especially small children, by doing a thorough check:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
Keep your pets safe by making sure you check them as well and talk to your veterinarian provider about the best tick prevention for your area.
Removing a tick
If you happen to get a tick-bite, don’t panic, just remove it as soon as possible using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull using steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or tugging to help the tick come out in one piece. Once it’s out, you can dispose of it by flushing it down the toilet, wrapping it tightly in tape, or putting it in alcohol. Make sure to wash the tick-bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol and soap after removal.
Tick-related illnesses can often feel like the flu with fever and chills, aches and pains including headache, fatigue, and muscle ache. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain. Tickborne diseases, however, are typically accompanied with a rash. The type of rash varies depending on the illness. More information on the types of rashes and symptoms can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/symptoms.html.
If you have been bitten by a tick recently and develop symptoms, make sure to let your healthcare provider know about your tick-bite, when the bite occurred, and the area you were in when you received the tick bite. You can make an appointment by calling 1-800-859-0085 or by accessing the Patient Portal.