- Ticks live in wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with host-seeking ticks.
- Take extra precautions in spring through fall when ticks are most active.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent on your skin.
- Consider treating clothing with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact and gives protection through several washes. Do not use permethrin on skin.
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention products for pets.
- Wear pants, long sleeves and long socks. Light-colored clothing can help you spot ticks more easily.
- Check clothing, gear, and pets before going inside.
- Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes.
- Check your body and your child’s body: under arms, behind ears, around waist, between legs, etc. Using a mirror can help.
- Take a shower to wash off unattached ticks and to help find attached ticks more easily.
Remove the tick as soon as you can. Use fine-tipped tweezers, or a tick removal tool, and follow the steps below. Don't use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or any other products to remove a tick. These methods don't work!
- With a steady motion, pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed. Don't twist or jerk the tick. Don't be alarmed if the tick's mouthparts stay in the skin.
- Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
- Clean your hands and the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
You don't need to go to your health care provider or the emergency room to have a tick removed. If you have trouble removing the tick, or you can't reach it, ask a family member or friend to help.
Generally, infectious disease experts do not recommend the routine use of antibiotics following a tick bite as a way to prevent Lyme disease. Health care providers might offer patients a single dose of antibiotics after a tick bite if:
- The tick can be identified as a blacklegged tick;
- It's been attached for 36 hours or more;
- The antibiotic can be given within 72 hours of tick removal;
- Your doctor determines that the antibiotics are safe for you, and;
- Lyme disease is common in the area where the tick bite occurred. If you believe you picked up the tick anywhere in Vermont or neighboring states, this condition would be met.
Some people are interested in testing ticks that they removed from themselves or loved ones tested for various tickborne diseases. The Vermont Department of Health does not recommend tick testing under these circumstances for the following reasons:
- You may not have been infected. Even if a tick is infected and tests positive, it may not have transmitted the infection to you.
- Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected, not know it, and develop symptoms of tickborne disease.
- It might delay treatment. Tick test results take several days and may not be available in time to make a prompt health care decision.
- Tests performed on ticks are not held to the same standards as tests performed on humans. Results of tick testing should not be used for treatment decisions. Even with a negative result, people should still monitor themselves for the appearance of a rash, fever, and flu-like symptoms. If any occur, you should contact your health care provider.
Some private laboratories offer tick testing, but the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets do not collect ticks from the public and test them for tickborne diseases.
- Watch for symptoms of tickborne illness for 30 days after a tick bite.
- Symptoms may include fever, chills, rash, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, or fatigue. Not all people with Lyme disease report a rash.
- Contact your health care provider if you develop any symptoms, and tell them about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and your outdoor activities.
- Some tickborne diseases, including Lyme disease and anaplasmosis, can be treated with antibiotics.
- Most people who receive a timely diagnosis and begin treatment early in the course of their illness fully recover.
To help spread the word, you can order free, evidence-based, professionally-printed materials from the Health Department.