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
- Should you have the tick tested?
- Symptoms of Lyme disease
- Control ticks around your home
- 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, 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Read about landscaping ideas and other methods for controlling ticks around your home.