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Don't Get Ticked Off This Summer

Simple tips should keep outdoor fun tick-free

SATURDAY, May 7, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Summer is coming, and that means outdoor fun: days at the seashore, wilderness hikes, camping under the stars -- and ticks.

America is home to more than 200 tick species, including several that can transmit serious illnesses -- including Lyme disease -- to humans, warned Robert Pinger, director of the Public Health Entomology Laboratory at Ball State University in Indiana.

Tick habitats include forests, lawns, beach grass, and even urban areas. Ticks cling to their hosts and use harpoon-like barbs in their mouths to pierce the skin and feed.

Pinger offers the following tips on foiling the insects this summer:

  • Go light and long. Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts when walking in the woods, since they offer more protection while making it easier to spot dark-colored ticks crawling on clothing. Tuck pants into socks or boots and tuck shirt-tails into pants. For an added precaution, tape areas where pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under clothing. A hat can provide added protection from ticks.
  • Be repellant. Spray insect repellant on your clothing and exposed skin. Don't use insect repellants on small children. For extended stays in tick-infested areas, pre-treat your clothes with permethrin spray. It's usually available where mosquito repellants are sold.
  • Check, check, check.Especially before returning home, check yourself, loved ones and pets for ticks.
  • Launder hot. Use very hot water to wash clothing to kill any hidden ticks.
  • And if you are bitten... carefully remove the attached tick with tweezers or blunt-curved forceps. Disinfect the bite area thoroughly and wash hands with soap and water. Place the removed tick in an air-tight container. If the person bitten by the tick becomes ill, show the tick to the doctor. Knowing the type of tick can help the doctor diagnose a tick-carried disease.

More information

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

SOURCE: Ball State University, news release
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