Tick prevention methods
With summer approaching, the warm weather, and mountains nearby, a camping trip might be on the minds of many people. While it’s a fun way to get outside and experience nature, it’s important to remember that a few uninvited guests may try to hitch a ride with you while you’re hiking through the woods.
Ticks can carry a number of diseases to include Lyme disease and the potentially fatal Rocky Mountain spotted fever. While the threat of ticks isn’t something that should keep you cowering indoors, you should take proactive measures to prevent tick bites before venturing out into the woods.
The best way to prevent tick bites is the most obvious — avoid direct contact with ticks. While you should take preventive measures against ticks throughout the year, they are typically most active from April to September when the weather is a little warmer. To decrease your chances of coming in contact with ticks, you should avoid wooded and brushy areas containing high grass and leaf litter. When walking on trails, stay to the center of the path.
“Prevention is key,” said Dr. (Maj.) Aaron Farmer, Infectious Disease Service, Womack Army Medical Center. “Ensuring you’re using repellent and wearing treated clothing is an easy way to protect yourself from a variety of diseases spread by ticks.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention you should use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin to repel ticks. They advise that you should always follow the product instructions and that parents should apply the product on their children. Additionally, you should treat clothing and gear with products containing .5 percent permethrin. Pre-treated clothing is also available.
Farmer warns that checking the labels is important.
“Some products, especially for children or sensitive skin, may not have the recommended levels of DEET,” he said. “Be sure that you take the extra few minutes to check the label to make sure your product meets the recommended guidelines.”
To ensure you don’t have any unwelcome ticks on you after you return indoors, you should bathe or shower as soon as possible. Using a mirror, check everywhere on your body and check children to include under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and in the hair.
Don’t forget to check gear and pets. Wash all your clothes in hot water. If they can’t be washed in hot water, put them in the dryer on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes.
For additional tips and guidelines, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/ticks. For assistance in selecting the best insect repellent for you and your Family, visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website at www.epa.gov/insect-repellents.