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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. 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.

Tick Prevention

Luckily, there are many things we can do to prevent tick-borne diseases:

  • Most important: 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 groin, then work your way upwards.
  • When outdoor stick to hiking trails, wear light-colored clothing (to see ticks) and tuck in loose ends.
  • Treat your shoes and clothing: Turn your everyday shoes and clothing into a tick’s worst nightmare. Treating clothing and shoes with permethrin–a safe, colorless, and long-lasting insect repellent–means that even if a tick attaches to your clothing, it will die before it crawls to bite you. You can treat shoes, socks, pants, shirts, hats and outdoor gear, and the treatment lasts for many weeks/many washings (read the product label for more precise information).
  • Wear insect repellent on your skin: Using insect repellent that contains DEET is recommended by both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Defense (DOD).

Tick Prevention Printable Flyer (PDF, 795 KB)

Find more prevention information at mass.gov/mosquitoes-and-ticks.

Found a tick? Identify the tick and learn its Risk Factor

If you find a tick, you can take a picture and use this QR code to submit it to tickencounter.org.

Within 24 hours, the experts at TickEncounter will identify the species of tick, tell you its risk level, and provide you with future prevention tips! TickEncounter is a free service run through the University of Rhode Island.

Tick Removal

You’ve been bit by a tick if the tick is attached to your skin. You may not “feel” it, like other bug bites.

Here’s what to do:

  • To remove the tick, use fine-tipped tweezers.
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even force. If the tick breaks in half, try to remove its mouth from the skin.
  • If you can’t, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • Clean the bite area and your hands thoroughly.
  • Continue to check the bite area for several weeks; if you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, see a doctor.

Tick Removal Printable Flyer (PDF, 225 KB)

Does the tick carry disease?

If you remove a tick from a person or a pet, you can submit it to be tested for pathogens, which carry diseases. 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.

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