Local public health officials are getting out the word on the uptick in the tick-borne illnesses caused by infection. With the chances of being bitten by a tick in the area rising during the summer months, a proactive approach is being advised. Door County Public Health Registered Sanitarian and Educator Chelsea Smies says repellents and appropriate clothing are important when heading outdoors.
Smies advises that if you find a tick on your body, remove it immediately without causing major agitation. She suggests using tweezers to grab the head of the tick and slowly pull it straight out without twisting. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, joint pain, aches, fatigue and a rash with a bulls-eye appearance. You can find more information on tick and mosquito prevention with at the CDC website tips below.
Preventing tick bites
Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months (April-September). Know which ticks are most common in your area.
Before You Go Outdoors
- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsExternal containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search toolExternal can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- Avoid Contact with Ticks
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
After You Come Indoors
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist