Metro-East News

Ticks? Ick! Here are a few simple steps to avoid tick bites.

A brown dog tick
A brown dog tick

Before you head out to enjoy summer activities, consider a few simple steps to help prevent tick bites.

Ticks can transmit minor to serious diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. According to the Chicago Tribune, this summer could be one of the worst seasons for tick-borne diseases. Reported diseases from ticks have increased by nearly 30,000 since the late 1990s, the newspaper reported.

To reduce the risk of being bitten by a tick, the St. Clair County Health Department Environmental Programs Division recommends:

▪  Avoid tick-infested areas, especially wooded areas.

▪  Wear light-colored clothing so you can easily spot a tick. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants to keep ticks on the outside of your body. Tape the area where pants and sock meet to help reduce exposure and wear a long sleeved shirt for added protection.

▪  Spray insect repellent containing 20 to 30 percent concentration of DEET on clothes and exposed skin other than face or treat clothes with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying repellants.

▪ Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass and brush. Remove ticks promptly when you find them. To remove a tick, grasp the head with tweezers where the mouthparts enter the skin, pulling slowly and consistently. The tick will release its mouthparts and come loose. Do not handle the tick. Removing ticks using heat or nail polish is not recommended because the mouthparts could remain in the wound and cause infection.

▪  Remember to take preventative measures to protect your dog. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases.

To reduce the chance that a tick will transmit a disease to your pets, the CDC suggests:

▪  Check your pets daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.

▪  If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.

▪  Ask your vet to conduct a tick check at each exam.

▪  Talk to your vet about using tick prevention on your pet.