Tahlequah Daily Press

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June 20, 2014

Tips to prevent tick bites and mosquito-bourne diseases

TAHLEQUAH — The Oklahoma State Department of Health offers many tips to help make summertime safer and more enjoyable. Visit their website at www.ok.gov.

Tick Bite Prevention Tips

Avoiding tick bites is the best way to reduce your risk of developing a tickborne illness. The following personal tick bite prevention tips are recommended when exposure to a wooded or tick infested area is likely.

• Wear light colored clothing to make ticks easier to see.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks to deprive ticks of attachment sites.

• Wear closed-toe shoes, not sandals.

• When hiking, biking, or walking, stay in the center of trails to avoid grass and brush.

• Check for ticks at least once per day; particularly along waistbands, in the armpits, and groin area. Don’t forget the back and the scalp!

• Use a tick repellent with DEET on skin and clothing according to the directions.

• Use a tick repellent with permethrin on clothing only as directed by the label.

Tick Removal Tips

Once bitten by a tick, it is important to remove the tick appropriately. Since the risk of contracting a tickborne illness increases the longer the tick stays attached; ticks should be removed as quickly as possible. Sometimes a small red welt may be present on the skin where the tick was attached. This is generally due to localized irritation from the tick’s saliva and can be expected to resolve in 1-2 days. The following tick removal tips will help you safely remove a tick and reduce your risk of developing a tickborne illness. Note: it is also important to follow these recommendations when removing ticks from your pets.

• Use tweezers, or fingers wrapped in tissue, to grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.

• Use gentle, steady pressure to pull the tick from the skin, try not to twist or jerk the tick as you pull.

• Do not squeeze the body of the tick at any time while it is attached – you can release disease-causing bacteria into the bite wound.

• Do not squeeze the body of the tick to kill it after it has been removed – you can force disease-causing organisms out of the tick and onto/into your skin.

• Wash your hands with warm soapy water when finished removing the tick.

• Do not use matches, gasoline, nail polish remover, or other ointments as methods of tick removal.

• Inspect your body for additional ticks - don’t forget the back and the scalp.

• Note the date of tick removal and report any symptoms consistent with tickborne illnesses to your physician immediately.

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