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Ticked off for a good reason: ways to help prevent tick bites

Staff writer

With summer rapidly approaching, county residents might want to start practicing defensive techniques against the onslaught of ticks that ensues with warmer weather.

Immunizations nurse Cindy Reeh said the team at Marion County Health Department treat tick bites every year.

“A bite can happen anywhere,” Reeh said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in town or out of town. People get them when they’re mowing in the yard, on walks, in wooded areas, camping, really anytime your outdoors you should exercise due diligence in checking yourself.”

She said some ticks are very small, which makes them hard to see, so it’s a good idea for people to check each other out, after they have checked themselves.

Reeh emphasized that parents of small children should make doubly sure to check their kids after they have been playing outdoors.

“We live in a rural area and people do a lot of outdoor activities where ticks live,” Reeh said. “There is no 100 percent certain way to prevent tick bites.”

A news release from the Kansas Department of Health and environment said symptoms of tick-borne illnesses can include any unusual rash and unexplained flu-like symptoms, including fever, severe headaches, body aches, and dizziness.

KDHE recommends that people see a doctor immediately if a person experiences such symptoms after having been bitten by a tick because prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness or even death.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, it is good idea to practice preventative measures against ticks year round, but people should be extra vigilant from April to September when ticks are most active.

To prevent tick bites CDC recommends people should:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours, and always follow product instructions. Parents also should apply products to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • People should also use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin, which remains protective through several washings.
  • If a tick is discovered attached to a person’s body, it should be removed.
  • People should bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • A full-body tick check should be conducted using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all body parts upon return from tick-infested areas.
  • Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Outdoor gear and pets should be examined. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, and later attach to a person.
  • Clothes should be tumble dried in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill ticks.
  • More information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/.

Last modified May 18, 2016

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