Take Cover from Ticks

Tips on how to protect yourself against disease-carrying ticks this summer

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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MONDAY, July 4, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- If you like to be outside during the summer, you need to protect yourself against ticks, which carry diseases that can be transmitted to people and animals.

In the United States, there are 82 species of ticks that can transmit nine major diseases to humans. The most common tick-related diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Many tick-related illnesses cause flu-like symptoms such as headache, high fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, and muscle aches.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers the following tips on how you can protect yourself against tick bites when you're outside:

  • Wear light-colored clothing so it's easier for you to spot ticks.
  • Use insect repellants that contain DEET and follow the directions on the label.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, shoes and socks.
  • Tuck your pant bottoms into the tops of your socks. This will help prevent ticks from getting under your clothing and onto your skin.
  • After you've been outdoors, do a head-to-toe examination of yourself and your children.
  • If you do find a tick on your skin, remove it by using fine tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the surface of your skin as possible. Pull the tick off firmly but gently. Don't jerk or twist as you pull. Try not to puncture the tick's body, which has fluids that may cause infection. After you remove the tick, apply alcohol to the wound. Preserve the tick in alcohol and call your doctor.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tick tips.

SOURCE: Department of Veterans Affairs, news release, June 2005

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