Q: I’m camping over Memorial Day weekend, and I want to avoid exposure to tickborne diseases. How can I prevent tick bites?
A: Disease-carrying deer ticks are most active during snow free periods of the year, so it’s important to take precautions when enjoying the outdoors. High-risk areas include hardwood forests, woody/brushy areas and long grass. Here are some tips to prevent tick bites:
Walk in the center of trails to avoid picking up ticks from grass and brush.
Wear light-colored clothing so ticks will be more visible. Check and re-check yourself throughout the day.
Create a barrier to ticks by tucking your pant legs into socks or boots, and wearing a long-sleeved shirt tucked into your pants.
Use a repellent containing DEET or permethrin, and carefully follow the directions on the container. Permethrin-treated clothing is also available at many sporting goods stores.
The best defense after being outdoors in tick habitat, is to do a complete body check, shower and vigorously towel dry. Wash your clothes immediately as to not spread any ticks.
Pets are most likely the ones who will carry a tick indoors. Check your pets for ticks each time they’ve been outdoors.
If you find an attached tick the prompt removal is important. If possible use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick by the head. Grasp tick close to the skin, pull the tick outward slowly, gently and steadily, use antiseptic on the bite. Avoid remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover or burning matches, they are not a safe or effective way to remove ticks. See a doctor right away if you experience a rash, fever, headache, fatigue or other signs of illness. To learn more, visit the DNR website “Deer Ticks.”
Melissa Warhol, DNR safety and risk supervisor