Tick Reminders

As temperatures warm and children spend more time outside both at home and at school, we’d like to remind families of steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of tick bites and the illnesses they can bring.

Please consider the following things you can do to help prevent tick-borne illness:

  • The CDC recommends using an insect repellent containing 20% DEET. Follow directions, and apply repellent before your child comes to school. Insect repellent protects against both mosquitoes and ticks. Similar to sunblock, school staff cannot apply insect repellent to students.
  • Remind your children to look for ticks on clothing before coming back into school, but please perform a full body tick check on your child at home after school/in the evening.
  • Wearing a hat or bandana is an extra precaution you can take to protect the head and neck from ticks.
  • Having your child wear light colored long pants tucked into light colored socks, closed-toe shoes, and a long sleeved shirt helps make ticks on clothing visible.  

Being outdoors is healthful and has benefits for all of us. As educators, we believe in teaching children how to enjoy the outdoors safely and hope you’ll join us in supporting this goal.

For more information on ticks, please consult the CDC Websites on Ticks: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html

and Preventing Tick Bites: https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html.


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.

  • Deer ticks:  Both nymph (young) and adult deer ticks will bite humans.  The highest risk of being bitten by a deer tick occurs throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons.  However, adult deer ticks can also be out searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing.  Deer tick nymphs are the size of a poppy seed and deer tick adults are the size of a sesame seed.otect against Lyme disease or any other tickborne disease found in Massachusetts.
  • Dog ticks:  In general, only the adult dog tick will bite humans.  The highest risk of being bitten by a dog tick occurs during the spring and summer seasons.  Adult dog ticks are about the size of a watermelon seed.

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.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pets from ticks.
  • There is currently no human vaccine available to pr

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 mouthparts 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 can be found on the following web sites:

www.mass.gov/dph  and  www.cdc.gov