Prevent Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick.
People living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. But you and your family can prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of Lyme disease.
Protect Yourself from Tick Bites:
Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks (the ticks that cause Lyme disease) live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. You may get a tick on you during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through leaves and bushes. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or other vegetation. Though Lyme disease cases have been reported in nearly every state, cases are reported from the infected person's county of residence, not the place where they were infected.
Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin and can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions!
Parents should apply repellents to their children. Do not get repellent on children's hands or in their eyes or mouth. Products that contain permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear. Treated items can stay protected through several washings.
Perform Daily Tick Checks:
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Search your entire body for ticks when you return from an area that may have ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of your body and your child's body for ticks.
Under the arms
In and around the ears
Inside the belly button
Back of the knees
In and around all head and body hair
Between the legs
Around the waist
Check your clothing and pets for ticks because they may carry ticks into the house. Check clothes and pets carefully and remove any ticks that are found. Place clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks.
Remove an attached tick with fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small, however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.
Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease, such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if you have signs or symptoms.
Be Alert for Fever or Rash:
Even if you don't remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of Lyme disease, particularly if you've been in tick habitat. See your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.
Prevent Ticks on Animals:
Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home by limiting their access to tick-infested areas and by using veterinarian-prescribed tick collars or spot-on treatment.
Modify your landscaping to create "Tick-Safe Zones." It's pretty simple. Keep patios, play areas, and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes and other vegetation. Regularly remove leaves, clear tall grasses and brush around your home, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas (and away from you).
Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for homeowners to use, or a professional pest control expert can apply them.
Deer are the main food source of adult ticks. Keep deer away from your home by removing plants that attract deer and by constructing barriers (like a fence) to discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.
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