Health News: Tick Facts

TICK FACTS

What are ticks?

Ticks are bugs that feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles.  Deer ticks and dog ticks are found throughout Massachusetts and may spread different disease-causing germs when they bite.  Ticks are generally found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas.  Ticks do not fly or jump.  They attach to animals or people that come into direct contact with them.

How can I protect my family from tick bites?

  • The single most important thing you can do is check yourself for ticks once a day.  Favorite places ticks like to go on the body include areas between the toes, back of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline, and behind the ears.  Remember to check your children and pets, too.  Remove any attached tick as soon as possible.
  • Use repellents that contain DEET on exposed skin and those that contain Permethrin on clothing.  Be sure to read product labels to ensure safe and proper usage.
  • Stick to main pathways and the center of trails when hiking.
  • Wear long-sleeved, light colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks.  This will keep ticks away from your skin and make it easier to spot a tick on your clothing.

What should I do if I find a tick on myself or my child?

The tick should be carefully removed as soon as possible.  The longer an infected tick remains attached to a person or animal, the higher the likelihood of disease transmission.  Use fine point tweezers to grip the mouth parts of the tick as close to the skin as possible.  The tick should not be squeezed or twisted, but pulled straight outward with steady, gentle pressure.  You should not apply kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or a hot match tip to remove the tick; these measures are not effective and may result in injury.  Notify your health care provider if you have been bitten by a deer tick, or if you develop a rash or other flu-like symptoms following a tick bite.

Further information:

www.mass.gov/dph  and  www.cdc.gov