Protect Yourself: Ticks and Lyme Disease

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 skinpants tucked into socks, ankles sprayed with insect repellent

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Perform routine tick checks

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

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What to do if you have a tick bite

Remove the tick.
Try to remove the tick as soon as you discover it, as it takes at least 24-36 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria 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 and protect bare hands with a tissue or gloves to avoid contact with tick fluids.

image of tick removal with tweezers


2. Grab the tick close to the skin. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.


image of tick removal

 

3. Gently pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed.

 

DO NOT attempt to remove the tick by touching it with a burnt match or swabbing it with alcohol or petroleum jelly.  This will only aggravate the tick and cause it to release more bacteria into the blood stream.

Thoroughly wash your hands and the bite area

After removing the tick, wash your hands with soap and water or waterless alcohol-based hand rub. Clean the tick bite with an antiseptic such as iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or soap and water

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Should you have the tick tested?

The Vermont Department of Health does not test ticks for Lyme disease, nor does it 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 24 to 36 hours in order to transmit Lyme disease.

Delays in treatment.
Tick test results take several days and would not be available in time to make a timely 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. So the results from testing a particular tick may not be helpful. For example, if a tick is tested and the result is negative, one could still have been bitten by an 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 health care provider.

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Watch for symptoms of Lyme disease

There are three stages of Lyme disease: early, early disseminated, and late Lyme disease. Symptoms of early Lyme disease may occur days or weeks after infection.

Contact your healthcare provider if you develop fever, headache, fatigue, or rash.

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Control ticks around your home

Pets

Lyme disease is not limited to humans. It is important for animals to avoid tick bites and receive prompt treatment for Lyme disease. Check your pets regularly for ticks, and use tick medicine or collars on dogs and cats.

Landscaping

Read about landscaping ideas and other methods for controlling ticks around your home.

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