News

Lyme Disease Prevention

May 4, 2015

It's Spring – Time to Prevent Lyme Disease.

Lyme disease is the most commonly occurring vector-borne disease in the United States. An estimated 300,000 infections occur each year, of which only 30,000 are reported to CDC by state health departments.

The risk is greatest among those living in or visiting New England, the mid-Atlantic states, and the upper Midwest. A recent national survey found that nearly 20 percent of people in areas where Lyme disease is common were unaware of the danger. Fortunately, there are several tactics you and your family can use to prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of tickborne disease.

Protect Yourself from Tick Bites

Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid tall vegetation.

Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing and gear). Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply repellents to their children, taking care to avoid application to hands, eyes, and mouth. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Treated items can remain protective through several washings.

Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. 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 your body 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, etc.)

Check your clothing and pets for ticks because ticks may be carried into the house on clothing and pets. Both should be examined carefully, and any ticks that are found should be removed. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly

Remove an attached tick using fine-tipped tweezers as soon as you notice it. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, other diseases may be transmitted more quickly.

Over the next few weeks, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as rash or fever. See a healthcare provider if these develop. For more information, see tick removal.

Be Alert for Fever or Rash

Even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick, an unexpected summer fever or odd rash may be the first signs of a tickborne disease, particularly if you’ve been in tick habitat. See your health care provider if these symptoms develop.

Click here for more on Lyme Disease Prevention from the CDC.