The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to be on the lookout for ticks and the diseases they can spread.
May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, according to the CDC. The CDC suggests making preventing tick bites a part of your plans when gardening, camping, hiking, or just enjoying the outdoors.
Ticks cause Lyme disease, other illnesses
Ticks could be in the areas where we live, work and play; infected ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected tick. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 infections occur each year. If you camp, hike, work, or play in wooded or grassy places, you could be bitten by an infected tick. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.
The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.
The CDC reports that people living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest are at greatest risk. Infected ticks can also be found in neighboring states and in some areas of Northern California, Oregon and Washington.
Take steps to protect against ticks
Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. The CDC recommends that people:
- Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
- Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
- Treat dogs for ticks, using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, etc. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and accompanying diseases, and could bring ticks inside.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to wash off and find ticks before they bite.