Want to avoid tick-borne diseases?
ARKANSAS — Kelly Loftin, extension entomologist at the University of Arkansas, offered the following tips and information in a 2014 article entitled “Arkansas tick season returns in force” to reduce the chance of contracting tickborne illnesses.
■ Avoid tick-infested areas, including dense vegetation, tall grass and the zones where open fields meet forested areas.
■ Use tick repellents according to label instructions. Insect repellents containing DEET or clothing-only repellents containing permethrin are most commonly used.
■ Find and remove ticks. Check yourself, your children and pets frequently for ticks. Wear light-colored clothing in tickinfested areas. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after returning from tickinfested areas to wash off crawling ticks and locate attached ticks.
■ Create a tick-safe zone in your yard by clearing tall grass and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns. A threefoot-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas will restrict tick migration into yards. Mow frequently, keep leaves raked, stack wood neatly and remove old furniture, mattresses or trash from yards.
■ Examine gear — ticks can ride into the home on clothing, pets, backpacks, etc.
■ Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
■ Loftin said attached ticks should be removed promptly. If removed within a few hours after biting, the chance of a tick-borne illness is greatly reduced. Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers, pulling upward with a steady pressure, Loftin said. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
■ “Thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water,” Loftin said.
Loftin advised knowing the symptoms of tickborne diseases. If seeing a healthcare provider, they should be alerted to any tick exposure.
Tick-borne diseases can also cause serious illness in pets and other domestic animals, Loftin said. He advised checking them frequently and using tickcontrol products recommended by veterinarians.