Public Health

Posted on: June 9, 2017

Prevent Contact with Ticks and Avoid Tick-borne Illnesses

In this area, ticks are especially prevalent from April to September, but residents should remember that tick bites can happen anytime of the year. Ticks hibernate during the winter months and look for a host to latch onto when temperatures rise.

To prevent contact with ticks and avoid tick-borne illnesses, Ipswich Public Health recommends the following tips provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

·        Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter -- ticks wait in vegetation and attack from below.
·        Keep a tidy yard.
·        Walk in the center of trails.
·        Use repellant that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin, being sure to follow product instructions.

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

·        Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be crawling on you.
·        Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check areas carefully where ticks like to hide -- between the toes, backs of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline, and behind the ears.
·        Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and gear.
·        If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Use a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure.
·        You should not apply kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or a hot match tip to remove the tick. These measures are not effective and may result in injury.
·        Circle the calendar date and note where on the body the tick was removed. You may want to save the tick for identification.
·        Your physician may choose to treat you following a deer tick bite. Notify your healthcare provider if you have been bitten by a deer tick or if you develop a rash or other signs of illness following a tick bite.

Common Symptoms of Tick-related Illnesses

If you have been bitten by a tick, the most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses are:

·        Fever/chills: With all tick-borne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.

·        Aches and pains: Tick-borne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue and muscle aches. With Lyme disease, patients may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient’s personal tolerance level.

·        Rash: Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can all result in distinctive rashes.

Early recognition and treatment of these infections decreases the risk of serious complications. See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here.

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