The sun is shining, tulips are blooming, and the ticks are crawling. Spring means Vermonters are spending more time outside and need to protect themselves and family members — including our fur children — from tick bites.

It is important to prevent tick bites. Ticks can carry pathogens that cause human diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and very rarely Babesiosis/Ehrlichiosis.

Follow these easy steps to protect yourself from tick bites.

Avoid

When outdoors, walk in the center of trails and avoid wooded areas.

Repel

Use 20-30% DEET on skin/clothing and treat clothing/gear with permethrin.

Remove

Bathe or shower within two hours after spending time outside in tick prone areas. Conduct a full body tick check using a mirror. Inspect pets and gear for ticks. Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on clothing.

What does a tick look like?

An adult blacklegged tick, the most common disease-causing tick in Vermont, is roughly the size of a sesame seed and a nymph (immature tick) is roughly the size of a poppy seed. Take-home message: ticks are really tiny, so you have to look carefully!

Now, even the most diligent tick-checker might get bitten by a tick. If you find that you or a family member has been bitten, conduct the following:

Remove the tick with fine-tipped tweezers.

Tick pic 2

Clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact your primary care doctor.

For more information about preventing tick bites and tick-borne illnesses, visit the Vermont Department of Health Website.

Molly Markowitz, MD, is a 2018 graduate of the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and will be starting her residency in pediatrics at Yale in June.

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