As the weather grows warmer in parts of the country, you may spend more time outside. Being outside can put you at risk for tick bites, so make sure prevention is part of your plan prior to camping, hiking, gardening or just playing outside. That’s because some ticks carry Lyme disease which is spread by the bite of an infected tick. More than 476,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated each year. Left untreated, Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
There are steps you and your family can take to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Know Where to Expect Ticks
The ticks most likely to cause Lyme disease live in moist and humid environments, particularly in and near wooded or grassy areas. Try walking in the center of trails and avoid walking through tall bushes or grass. You may want to learn to identify various ticks. Different ticks live in different parts of the country and transmit different diseases.
Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. The EPA has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.
Perform Daily Tick Checks
Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Take special care to check these parts of you and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms.
- In and around the ears.
- Inside the belly button.
- Back of the knees.
- In and around all head and body hair.
- Between the legs.
- Around the waist.
Learn to Spot the Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
- Between 70 and 80% of people infected with Lyme Disease will develop a rash. While the rash can take up to 30 days to develop, the average is about seven days.
- Watch for symptoms for 30 days and call your healthcare provider if you get a fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches or swelling, and swollen lymph nodes. These may happen even if you don’t get a rash.
- Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.
For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control Lyme Disease page.