Protect Yourself from Tickborne Illnesses
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
They may be small, but the bite from just one infected tick can cause symptoms that range from fever and chills to severe infections. However, you can protect yourself from tickborne illnesses, such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, by avoiding areas where ticks are present and preventing ticks from getting on your body.
Avoid Tick Habitats
Ticks can be found in the northeastern, northwestern, mid-Atlantic, or upper north-central regions of the United States. They are most active in warmer months from April to September. However, they can be active when temperatures are above 40°F (4.4°C).
Tips for reducing your exposure to ticks include:
Prevent Ticks from Getting On Your Body
Proper clothing can help protect you from tick bites when you enter areas that may have ticks. When spending time outdoors:
Insect repellant can also prevent tick bites. Repellents containing 20%-30% N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) can be applied to clothes and exposed skin. Repellents that have 0.5% permethrin can be applied to pants, socks, and shoes, but not to skin.
Be sure to read product instructions carefully. For example:
Perform Tick Checks
After you spend time outdoors in a high-risk area:
Remove Ticks from Your Body
If you do find a tick, remove it by doing the following:
Know the Signs of Tickborne Illnesses
Symptoms of a tickborne illness can occur weeks after exposure. Even if you have taken precautions, be sure to contact your doctor right away if you have recently spent time in a high-risk area and have fever and chills, aches and pains, and a distinctive rash.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Paediatric Society
Preventing ticks on your pets. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_pets.html. Updated June 1, 2015. Accessed March 24, 2017.
Symptoms of tickborne illness. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/symptoms.html. Updated June 1, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2017.
Tick avoidance and removal. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed February 20, 2017.
Michael Woods, MD June 2017
Last reviewed June 2017 by Michael Woods, MD
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