Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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July 3, 2014

Ticks can transmit several illnesses

As Hoosiers continue to take advantage of the warm weather by spending more time outdoors, they are reminded to be aware and protect themselves from ticks, reports Ken Severson, Indiana State Department of Health spokesperson.

Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that are often found in naturally vegetated areas or woodlands throughout Indiana. They can transmit illnesses, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Last year, Indiana confirmed 101 cases of Lyme disease, two cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and 22 cases of ehrlichiosis.

“When the weather stays warm, as it is in the summer, ticks are more active,” said Dr. William VanNess, state health commissioner “It’s important to know that ticks are carriers of a number of diseases, and that all ticks should be considered infectious and capable of transmitting diseases.”

When entering a grassy or wooded area where ticks are often present, the best way to prevent tick-transmitted diseases is to wear a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants, with the shirt tucked in at the waist and the pants tucked into socks. The use of repellents provides even more protection.

Insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin can be sprayed on both skin and clothing to repel these and other insects. People who expect to be exposed to ticks for extended periods of time should use products containing permethrin on their clothing, but not on bare skin. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills insects on contact.

After leaving a grassy or wooded area, people should check for ticks on clothing and skin. Ticks need to be attached for several hours to a couple of days before they can infect an individual.

“Ticks can be safely removed even if they are attached to your skin,” VanNess revealed. They “can be removed with either tweezers or forceps by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and then pull upward with steady and even pressure without squeezing the tick. It’s not a good idea to remove ticks with fingers, but if tweezers or forceps are not available, you can use tissue paper or a paper towel to prevent the passing of any possible infection.”

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