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Available Forms to Review or Download
There’s a lot to hate about ticks. They feed on blood - and any blood will do: bird, deer, dog, horse, human. And while those tiny parasitic marvels are feeding on our blood, they can be transmitting disease, including the dreaded Lyme disease. Ticks are looking for a free ride and a free meal (this means you) anytime the temperature is above freezing.
There’s only one way to get Lyme disease - you must be bitten by an infected deer tick. But how on earth can we tell the difference between ticks? We need a cheat sheet and the Mass Dept. of Public Health has obliged. Download their tick identification card by clicking here. You can also order free laminated cards for family and friends (what a great stocking stuffer)!
The best way to prevent Lyme disease, and all tick-borne diseases, is to prevent tick bites in the first place. Ticks are most commonly found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. They only attach when you come into direct contact with them. They cannot jump or fly (thank goodness)! Test your tick knowledge with the CDC Lyme disease quiz, which you can view by clicking here.
Lyme disease is caused by bacteria. Early treatment of Lyme disease with oral antibiotics (within the first few weeks after initial infection) is straightforward and almost always results in a full cure. The Mass DPH has a terrific primer on ticks and Lyme disease. Click here to visit their page.
After a tick bite, watch for the appearance of any type of rash (seen in up to 90% of all Lyme cases), fever, or flu-like symptoms may also be present. A tick should be carefully removed as soon as possible. The longer an infected tick remains attached to you, the more likely you are to get sick. Forget those old myths about removing a tick by coating it with Vaseline or nail polish. You don’t want to wait for the tick to get around to detaching itself. You want to remove it NOW! It’s easier than you think. Check out the tick removal information on the Lyme disease page from the American Lyme Disease Foundation by clicking here. Knowledge is power, even if it does give you the heebie jeebies!
There’s no need to become a hermit just because ticks are around. The CDC recommends taking tick precautions:
- Use insect repellent that contains 20-30% DEET on exposed skin.
- Use repellent containing permethrin on clothing, shoes, and camping gear (do not apply to skin).
- Take a shower as soon as you can after working or playing outdoors.
- Look for ticks on your body. Ticks will attach anywhere, but prefer body creases such as the armpit, groin, back of the knee, and nape of the neck.