The best way to prevent disease is to prevent tick bites
Tickborne illnesses are most frequently transmitted between early spring and late fall since ticks are most active during warm months. By taking preventive measures, such as wearing a repellent containing 30% DEET, checking your body daily for ticks, and actively limiting exposure to ticks and tick habitats, you can decrease your risk of infection.
- Avoid areas where ticks live
- Keep ticks off your skin
- Perform routine tick checks
- What to do if you have a tick bite
- Watch for symptoms of Lyme disease
- Testing the tick is not recommended
- Fact Sheet: Preventing Lyme disease
- Ticks prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass and a lot of leaf litter. These are areas to avoid.
- Take extra precautions in May, June, and July. This is when most infections occur.
- If you do enter a tick area, walk in the center of the trail to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter.
- Apply insect repellent with 30 percent DEET on skin and clothing
when you go outdoors. Don’t spray repellent on skin
- Permethrin sprayed on clothing kills ticks on contact and provides protection through several washings. Don’t use permethrin on skin.
- Cover up. Wear long pants, long sleeves, and long socks. Light-colored clothing will help you spot ticks more easily. Tucking pant legs into socks or boots and tucking shirts into pants help keep ticks on the outside of clothing.
- More about choosing insect repellent
Remove ticks from your clothes before going indoors
Wash your clothes with hot water and dry them using high heat for at least one hour.
Check your body and your child’s body after being outdoors.
Even in your own yard. Use a mirror to view all parts of your body (in armpits, behind ears, in groin, etc.) and remove any ticks you find.
Shower soon after you come inside if you have been in a tick habitat
- Fact Sheet: What to do if you have a tick bite
Remove the tick.
Try to remove the tick as soon as you discover it because prompt removal can prevent Lyme disease. It can take 36 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease to you.
Safely remove ticks
Early tick removal may reduce the risk of infection of some tick-borne diseases. Follow the steps below to safely remove ticks from animals and humans.
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers, or one of the many available tick removal tools, and firmly grasp the tick close to the skin. Avoid touching the tick with your bare hands.
2. With a steady motion, pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed. Do not twist or jerk the tick. Do not be alarmed if the tick's mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are removed from the rest of the tick, it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria.
DO NOT use petrolium jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or any other products to remove a tick. These methods are not effective.
In a pinch, if you don't have tweezers with you when you find a tick, you can use a credit card to remove the tick. Slide the card between the tick and your skin and apply steady pressure. This usually causes the tick to release.
Thoroughly wash your hands and the bite area
After removing the tick, wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Clean the tick bite with soap and water or use an antiseptic such as iodine scrub or rubbing alcohol.
If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 36 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is small. But just in case, monitor your health closely and be on the alert for symptoms of Lyme disease. Symptoms may begin as soon as 3 days after a tick bite or as long as 30 days after, but they usually appear within a few weeks of a tick bite. Contact your health care provider if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue soon after a tick bite.
The Vermont Department of Health does not test ticks for Lyme disease and does not recommend that tick testing be done. There are several reasons for this:
- You may not have been infected. Even if a tick is infected and tests positive, it may not have transmitted the infection to you. Ticks generally need to be attached to a human for at least 36 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.
- It might delay treatment. Tick test results take several days and may not be available in time to make a prompt treatment decision to prevent Lyme disease.
- You may have other tick bites that you don't know about. Most people who are infected with Lyme disease do not recall a tick bite. Therefore, if someone were to develop symptoms of Lyme disease there would be no way to know whether the infection was from a known tick bite or another unknown tick bite. For example, if a tick is tested and the result is negative, you could still have been bitten by another infected tick, not know it, and develop symptoms of Lyme disease.
- Tests performed on ticks are not always perfect. All laboratory tests have the possibility of false positive or false negative results. Even with a negative result, people should still monitor themselves for the appearance of a rash, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur, you should contact your healthcare provider.