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You Don’t Need To Avoid Nature To Avoid Ticks

Posted On June 12, 2014

By Mary Kuhlman, Indiana News Service

tick-leaf

The Indiana Department of Health is advising residents to protect themselves against ticks while hiking and exploring wooded areas this summer. Deer ticks, like the one pictured here, can spread Lyme disease.
Photo courtesy of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Concerns about ticks and the diseases they carry should not stop Hoosiers from getting out and enjoying nature this summer. In fact, experts say with the right precautions, the chances of being bitten are slim.

Bryan Price, senior medical entomologist at Indiana State Department of Health, says to wear long pants and long sleeves, make sure they are tucked in, and use an insect repellent. He adds where you walk can make a difference.

“We always recommend people walk in the center of the trail to avoid being close to the vegetation on either side,” says Price. “Try to avoid habitats where there are tall grass and shrubs because that’s where ticks are most likely going to be.”

After being outdoors, Price says it’s important to check for ticks on yourself and others. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. According to the Department of Health, there were more of 120 confirmed cases of tick-borne diseases last year.

If you do find a tick, Price says avoid removal methods such as heat or fingernail polish because they can agitate the tick and cause it to release bacteria into the body. Instead, Price says a pair of tweezers will do the trick.

“You would want to grab the tick right up against the skin and then just pull firmly and straight out. You’ll have some resistance, but don’t worry about that,” says Price. “Just pull it straight out, then wash the area with soap and water and you should be fine.”

Price says it typically takes several hours after a tick is attached before any disease is transmitted, and sometimes can take up to 48 hours. If you can remove a tick quickly, your chances of contracting a disease are greatly reduced.