Ticks - Prevention

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If you live in a tick-prone region, how do you prevent bites?

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How are bites from ticks prevented?

Acaricides are chemicals that will kill ticks and mites. Acaricides have been used in high-use, confined areas where ticks might be prevalent, such as yards or deer blinds. Reductions of tick habitats (for example, removal of leaf, litter, tall grasses, and brush) have been effective in small-scale trials. Newer methods of control include applying acaricides to animal hosts by using baited tubes, boxes, and feeding stations in areas where infected ticks are endemic (for example, some areas with dense deer populations). Biological control with fungi, parasitic nematodes, and parasitic wasps may also help reduce the tick population. Avoid tick season completely by staying away from outdoor areas where ticks thrive, usually during the months of April through September in the U.S. In addition, application of acaricides (chemicals that kill ticks and mites) can be applied to large areas of land to reduce the tick and mite population. Removing litter and brush from areas where people live and work may reduce exposure to ticks.

The third web citation below has the CDC recommended methods for outdoor workers (and others) to avoid getting tick bites and is summarized here:

  1. Avoid grassy areas and shrubs where ticks populations may be high and where they reside, waiting to grab a ride on a potential host.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily seen, and brush them off.
  3. Tuck pants into boots or socks to avoid ticks crawling up loose pant legs.
  4. Apply insect repellant and use the brands designed to repel ticks. Follow label instructions. Avoid use of DEET-containing repellents on children. Carefully follow instructions and apply some repellents directly to skin and others to clothing. DEET-containing repellents with concentrations of 15% or less may be suitable for children. These should be carefully applied strictly following label directions. Repellents containing permethrins may be applied to clothing but not to skin. In areas that have a high tick population, DEET-containing repellents may need to be reapplied more frequently than for repelling mosquitoes. Follow the package label instructions carefully.
  5. Promptly check yourself, others, and pets if exposed to areas where ticks are likely to be located.

Be sure to treat pets with flea and tick repellents. If ticks are removed from pets, manage them the same way you would remove a tick on a person. Protect yourself from the potential exposures with gloves. People who live in a tick-infested area and have experienced a fever within the last two months should not donate blood. Taking antibiotics for the prevention of Lyme disease is controversial and probably only useful in areas of the country where exposure to deer ticks would be high.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Bob, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: June 18

For several years, I have been working in the woods taking care of hiking trails. My first -- and as far as I know my only -- tick bite came from moving some rocks without wearing gloves. Several days later, I noticed a red rash near my wristwatch and thought it was an insect bite; there was no "bull's eye" in a white circle inside a red circle -- it was a fully red area about 1 inch in diameter. A few days later, I felt weak and tired, and decided to seek medical attention at the local hospital. Two nurses looked at the red area and both of them thought it was a Lyme tick infection; the doctor did not agree since there was no typical "bull's eye." A blood test confirmed Lyme disease; the doctor was wrong. Not all Lyme disease shows up as a "bull's eye."

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