Checking for Ticks

Ticks are small dark colored insects that grow to the size of a sunflower seed. Ticks in the US can carry any of 7 diseases, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

To eat, a tick crawls up a blade of grass or a branch and waits at the end of it for a warm-blooded host to come along. As a host walks by the tick grabs on. In a few hours, the tick begins to bury the front part of its head into the skin of its host and sucks blood from the site.

To avoid ticks...

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and full-length pants in wooded areas.
  • Wear light-colored apparel so ticks can be seen.
  • Tuck your pants into your boots or socks to prevent ticks from walking up your leg.
  • Wear shoes instead of sandals.
  • Spray your clothes with a tick repellent, such as Permethrin, and spray your skin with a tick protectant such as Deet.
  • Check yourself, your pets and companions for ticks after passing through wooded areas, and before entering your car or house.
  • Ticks lay large numbers of eggs. Since most ticks don't travel far they can be highly concentrated in a small area. Therefore, once you see a tick check your entire body for more and stay out of that area.

If you find a tick:

  1. Remove the tick promptly and carefully. Use a fine pointed tweezers to grasp the tick near its head or mouth and pull gently to remove the whole tick without crushing it. If the tick has buried its head in your skin, make sure you get all the mouth parts out of the skin. Do not use nail polish remover or a hot match.
  2. If possible, seal the tick in a plastic bag and keep it in case you later need to see your doctor. Otherwise flush the tick down the toilet or bury it.
  3. Wash your hands after handling the tick.
  4. Wash the bite area thoroughly and apply antiseptic.

See your doctor if...

Pay attention to your health for the next few weeks. If you develop any of the following symptoms see your doctor immediately, and bring the tick with you.

  • Feeling sick
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain and swelling

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