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Mon, Sept. 16

Protect your family from ticks

During the summer many people spend more time outdoors, so it’s important to remember how to prevent tick bites, which can cause a number of diseases, including Lyme disease and

Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Some species of ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see, but all hungrily look for animals and, sometimes, people to bite. Depending on the species, you can find ticks in various environments, often in or near wooded areas. You may come into contact with ticks when walking through infested areas or by brushing up against infested vegetation (such as leaf litter or shrubs). Ticks also feed on mammals and birds, which play a role in maintaining ticks and the pathogens they carry.

Tick-borne diseases can occur world-wide. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:

• Avoid tick-infested areas. Many local health departments and parks officials have information about the areas most infested with ticks. If you are in a tick-infested area, walk in the center of trails.

• Wear light-colored clothing, which allows you to see ticks that are crawling on your clothing. Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up inside of your pant legs.

• Use a chemical repellent with DEET or permethrin. Repellents with permethrin can be sprayed on clothing and will provide protection for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to the skin and the higher the concentration, the longer duration of DEET protection. Specific recommendations for children may be obtained from the American Academy of Pediatrics Internet site at www.aap.org.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Check these parts of your child’s body for ticks:

• Under the arms and in and around the ears

• Inside the belly button and back of the knees

• In and around the hair

• Between the legs and around the waist

Also, check your clothing for ticks. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

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