Simple family outings in the woods, park, or even your own backyard can leave you vulnerable to picking up ticks. It's important to fully understand ticks in order to avoid being bitten by ticks that may carry Lyme disease.
- Ticks are related to mites, spiders, and scorpions. Most adult ticks are the size of a sesame seed, and nymphs are the size of a poppy seed.
- Ticks do not have wings and can't jump. Instead, they climb up long blades of grass or low brush, and then attach themselves to animals or people passing through the vegetation.
- Ticks are noted for crawling under clothing, hiding under a person's hairline, and attaching to skin. Some ticks have an uncanny ability to detect people up to 18 ft. away!
- Lyme disease is a serious disorder transmitted by ticks to humans.
- It was first identified in the United States in 1975.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2003 and 2007, there were approximately 111,826 reported cases of Lyme disease in the U.S.
- Lyme disease is caused by a microscopic, corkscrew-shaped bacterium that is transmitted by the bite of deer ticks (also known as western black-legged ticks).
- Generally, a tick has to remain attached to your skin for an average of 36 to 48 hours to pass the Lyme disease pathogen to the human host.
- Symptoms of Lyme disease are often times confused with influenza, infectious mononucleosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Chills and fever
- Muscle and joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A red rash that resembles a bull's-eye
- Brief arthritic pain and swelling in larger joints, such as in the knee
- Nervous system abnormalities, such as numbness, pain, partial paralysis of facial muscles, and meningitis
- Irregular heart rhythm
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Wear light-colored socks and pants to help spot ticks.
- Tuck pant legs into socks to reduce the risk of ticks getting under your clothing. Spray socks and pant cuffs with a repellent for added protection.
- A daily ritual of examining yourself, your kids, and your family pet for ticks should be followed.
- Stay away from heavily wooded areas and high grassy areas.
- Keep your lawn well maintained.
- Brush leaves away from your home.
- Trim low-lying bushes to let in as much sunlight as possible. This will help keep your yard from becoming a shelter for small mammals that may act as a host for ticks.
- If you find a tick, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick's head as close to the skin as possible (without crushing it) and pull it directly out. Do not remove ticks with petroleum jelly or hot objects, such as matches or cigarettes. These methods can increase the chance of a host tick injecting you with dangerous bacteria.
- Make sure to see your doctor if you feel you may have been exposed to Lyme disease. In most cases, Lyme disease can be effectively treated with prescribed antibiotics.
American Lyme Disease Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Consumer Specialty Products Association
United States Environmental Protection Agency