From the Cooperative Public Health Service Team:
With the warmer weather, ticks are out-and-about. Ticks can transmit diseases to humans when they bite; the longer a tick remains attached to the skin, the higher the likelihood that it may spread bacteria that cause tick-borne illnesses.
In recent years, more than 34% of local deer ticks tested positive for Lyme and more than 5% for anaplasmosis, the two tick-borne diseases occurring most frequently in the Franklin County region. Although only deer ticks (aka black-legged ticks) can transmit Lyme and anaplasmosis, other ticks should be avoided because they can transmit less common diseases.
Luckily, there are many things we can do to prevent tick-borne diseases:
- When outdoors, stick to hiking trails, wear light-colored clothing (to see ticks) and tuck in loose ends.
- Make a habit of checking yourself, your children, and pets for ticks after coming inside. Think like a tick: ticks often hitch a ride after physical contact with brushy plants—start by checking feet, ankles, legs and any place below the belt, and work your way upwards.
- Use tick repellents, like DEET (designed for skin) and pre-treat clothing, including socks and shoes, with permethrin (not to be put on skin). Permethrin is invisible and odorless and stays effective in fabric through many washings. Using both repellents together is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Defense (DOD).
- Find more prevention information at mass.gov/mosquitoes-and-ticks and at tickencounter.org.
Removing a tick: If you have been bitten (the tick is attached to your skin), remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible, and pull with steady, even force. Wash the bite area and continue to check for several weeks; if you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, see your primary care provider.
Testing a tick: You can identify how risky a tick is at http://www.tickencounter.org.If you need to test the tick for tick-borne diseases, save the tick in a small, plastic bag. Log on to www.tickreport.com and follow the mailing instructions. Thanks to the local Boards of Health and the FRCOG, many residents need only pay $15 of the full $50 cost of getting a tick tested.
Flyers for download and sharing: