by Mary Wright, RN, health educator at North End Waterfront Health

Deer ticks, the kind of tick that carries Lyme disease, are found throughout Massachusetts. They are around all year but are especially active in the spring and summer months. Ticks are generally found in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. They are really tiny – about the size of a poppy seed or a sesame seed – and they are difficult to see. They do not fly or jump. They crawl onto people and animals when we brush against leaf litter or the tips of grasses and shrubs.

Prevention begins with you! Here is information to help you stay safe if you live, work, or spend leisure time in an area likely to have ticks:

  • The most important thing that you can do is check yourself, your children, and your pets daily after being outside. If you see a tick, remove it as soon as possible.
  • Wear long-sleeved, light colored shirts, and long pants that can be tucked into your socks.
  • Use insect repellents with DEET. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Read the label before applying.
  • The Mass Department of Health recommends that insect repellents not be used on infants younger than 2 months. Check with your doctor before using on infants and children.
  • The effectiveness of natural repellents is not known.
  • Permethrin containing products kill insects and ticks that contact them. They are not to be used on the skin.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to protect your pets.

For more information, contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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