What if I have been bitten by a tick?
If you discover a tick, remove it immediately. The longer the tick feeds, the greater chance that it can transmit its bacteria to you. The easiest removal method is to use a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible, and gently pull the tick off. Then, thoroughly wash your hands and the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
How can I avoid tick bites?
If you are planning an outdoor activity, especially those in a heavily wooded area, it is important to follow a few simple precautions to protect yourself from tick bites.
Wear long sleeved, light-colored clothing, with tightly woven fabric. This gives ticks less area to target and allows you to see ticks on your clothing.
When traveling through the woods or grassy fields, stay near the center of the trails. At home, make sure that you keep your lawn mowed and bushes and trees trimmed as short as possible.
Use insect repellents with 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing, but avoid the palms of hands and face. Apply the spray to your clothing, socks, shoes, tents and backpacks. Your clothes can also be treated with permethrin. You can purchase this product at most sporting goods stores and it will remain on your clothes for several clothes washings.
When returning from the outdoors, check for ticks. Be especially observant of hair, body folds, ears, underarms and the back. Check your clothes and gear for ticks and wash these items immediately. Placing them in a hot clothes dryer will also help.
Is there a vaccine for preventing tick-borne disease in humans?
Currently there are vaccines being tested, but there are no guarantees that they will be effective. The best option is to take precautions so that tick bites do not occur in the first place.
When should I call the doctor?
It is best to wait and see whether you develop any signs or symptoms. If a large red mark forms around the tick bite or if you develop fever, flu-like symptoms, rash, or more severe illness, contact your doctor right away. Your doctor can determine whether these symptoms might be caused by a tick-borne disease, and whether antibiotics will be needed.