Summertime means it’s tick season in much of the country. One bite could be a life-changer, but there are actions people can take that offer some protection.
Experts at the Centers for Disease Control say May and June are the peak months for tick bites that send people to the emergency room.
The Northeast is the epicenter for ticks in the United States, but last year, tick cases were reported in 48 states. Scientists say that’s due to climate change.
According to the CDC, nearly half-a-million Americans get treatment for a bite every year.
A tick bite can lead to an illness, like Lyme disease, that can affect your joints, heart, and nervous system. A bite from a lone star tick, found in parts of the Northeast, South and Midwest, can cause a person to become allergic to red meat. The range and abundance of lone star ticks is growing, according to the CDC.
For protection, health experts recommend:
- Use tick repellant spray with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon-eucalyptus, Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing point 5% permethrin.
- After spending time outside, check your body for ticks – showering is ideal.
- If you find a tick, carefully remove it with tweezers or even your fingers. Note: Ticks can hitchhike on clothes too, so check those too.
- If you develop fever, headache, fatigue or a skin rash, especially a bullseye-type redness around a bite, see your doctor.
Experts say that Lyme disease needs to be caught early for effective treatment with antibiotics. There is also a Lyme disease vaccine that Pfizer is working on. The third phase of testing the drug will start in July. About 100 Maine residents will participate in the 13-month trial.