What’s a tick?
Ticks are insects that live in brush or wooded areas, and can carry of a number of diseases. In Maine we hear a lot about the deer tick, which can carry Lyme disease. However, there are a number of diseases to be aware of that can be carried by different species.
For more information about Lyme and other tick borne diseases visit the Maine Center for Disease Control or Maine Medical Center Research Institute’s websites.
Don’t let ticks keep you inside!
Ticks should be taken seriously, but they shouldn’t keep you from exploring the outdoors. There are a number of highly effective precautionary steps you can take to prevent coming in contact with ticks.
How to Avoid Ticks
- Cover up and tuck in: Wear long pants and long sleeves. Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants when walking in woods, brush, or tall grass. Deer ticks attach to clothing and then walk upward.
- Light Clothes: Wear light-colored clothing so ticks may be seen more easily.
- Use Repellent: Use an effective repellent such as DEET or picaradin according to label directions — particularly on shoes, socks, and pant legs. Avoid applying high-concentration products to the skin, especially on children.
- Pre-treat with Permethrin: People who must be in areas where ticks are prevalent may pre-treat clothing with a permethrin-containing product which both repels and kills ticks. Use only as directed on the label.
- Talk to your vet: To protect pets, consult your veterinarian about tick repellents, acaricides and Lyme vaccines for dogs.
- Do tick checks: Inspect yourself, your clothing, your children, your companion, and your pets for ticks when you get in from the field. Ticks often attach in body folds, behind ears and in the hair. Showering removes unattached ticks, and heating in a clothes dryer is effective in killing ticks.
- Mowing grass and cutting brush in yards may reduce tick habitats in problem areas.
- When transporting pets or game, precautions should be taken to avoid bringing ticks into new areas.
How to Remove an Attached Tick
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, preferably with fine tweezers, and pull gently but firmly until the tick releases.
- Do not handle ticks with bare hands.
- Clean the bite with soap and water and apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream.
- Save the tick in a small bottle of 70% alcohol for identification if needed.
- Consult your physician if you remove an engorged deer tick.
Note: Folklore removal methods such as burning with a match or applying Vaseline or nail polish do not work and may increase the likelihood of infection. It has been demonstrated that a single oral dose of the antibiotic doxycycline, if given within 72 hours of removal of a deer tick, may provide effective prophylaxis for Lyme disease.
Source: The Maine Medical Center Research Institute Lyme & Vector-Borne Disease Lab’s Tick Prevention & Control Guidelines.
If you still have question about ticks you can contact the Maine Medical Center Lyme & Vector-Borne Disease Lab.