Protect yourself against ticks

Allen County Department of Health news release:

Public Encouraged to Protect Themselves Against Ticks

(April 3, 2020) – Spring has arrived, and with it comes ticks. These critters can pose serious health hazards. The Department of Health is reminding the public of steps they can take to protect themselves from exposure.

Ticks are small, insect-like creatures found throughout Indiana in grassy and wooded areas. They tend to be most active during the late spring and early summer. Recent field sampling by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has detected ticks are already active this year.

Ticks – which can sometimes transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia – are found in grassy, brushy areas where they wait for a host to pass by. Many diseases transmitted by ticks can be treated effectively when caught early, so call your doctor right away if you have a fever, rash or flu-like symptoms after being in tick-infested areas. Residents living near grassy and wooded areas should create a three-foot-wide barrier of stone or mulch between their yard and those areas.

Allen County residents can reduce the risk of tick bites by:

  • Wearing a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants with the shirt tucked in at the waist and pants tucked into socks if in grassy or wooded areas
  • Treating clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin, which is an insect repellent specifically designed for this purpose (permethrin should NOT be used on bare skin)
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone
  • Treating pets for ticks

Once indoors, people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets and skin. Tumbling clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill ticks, and showering can help remove any unattached ticks.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), ticks usually need to be attached for several hours to a couple of days before they can transmit disease, so quickly finding and removing a tick can help keep you safe from disease.

Ticks may be safely removed by using tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and pulling outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is removed, the area should be washed thoroughly. The tick should be discarded by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be crushed with the fingernails.

Anyone who becomes ill after finding an attached tick should contact their medical provider immediately and alert them to the exposure. Tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications.

For more information about ticks and how to prevent the diseases they carry, see the Allen County Department of Health’s website or the ISDH’s website.

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