Larry D. Jones, MPH
June 25, 2013
It’s officially summer and a great time to be outdoors. Warm weather and outdoor living also mean that we are more likely to come in contact with ticks, which may carry diseases that can be harmful to humans and pets. Ticks in Missouri may carry and transmit Lyme disease and tick-borne spotted fevers, which are spread when an infected tick feeds on a human.
To reduce the chances of being bitten by a tick, you should consider using a topical insect repellant that contains a 10 to 30 percent concentration of N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET). When reading the label of the repellant, you should remember that increasing the concentration of DEET does not provide better protection, but it does provide longer protection. If you are sensitive to DEET, you may want to choose a repellant with a seven percent concentration of Picaridin, which is odorless and less likely to cause skin irritations.
Apply the repellants lightly on the skin and avoid applying the repellants on the hands to avoid the risk of getting the chemical into your eyes or mouth. This is especially important when applying on young children. For additional protection, you may want to purchase a repellant that contains permethrin, which can be applied to boots, clothing, and camping gear.
After being outdoors, remember to check your body, clothing, and pets for ticks. Take special care to check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, the back of the knees, in all head and body hair, and around the waist.
If you find a tick, remove it using fine-tipped tweezers immediately. If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small; however, see a healthcare provider if a rash or fever develops.
Homeowners can prevent ticks by taking these extra steps around their home.
• Remove leaf litter.
• Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
• Place a three-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
• Mow the lawn frequently.
• Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
• Construct a fence to discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard.
• Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
For more information, contact the Independence Health Department at 325-7185.
*Information provided by Center for Disease Control and the Independence Health Department.