An Important Message from your Health Department about Tickborne Diseases
The following is a press release from the Brookline Health Department:
Deer ticks and dog ticks are found throughout Massachusetts including Brookline. When ticks bite humans or other mammals they can spread the germs that cause tickborne diseases, among them Lyme disease,babesiosis, tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Both Lyme disease and babesiosis have been on the rise in Massachusetts, with 2,593 confirmed casesof Lyme disease in 2010 (267 cases in Norfolk County), 25 cases in Brookline in 2011 and 191 cases ofbabesiosis in Massachusetts in 2011 (13 in Norfolk County).
Early symptoms of Lyme disease may include fever, headache, fatigue, and a distinctive skin rash. Early symptoms of babesiosis may include fever, chills, headache, achy joints and muscles, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dark urine.
The ticks that carry these diseases are often found in brushy, wooded, or high grassy areas. They may even be in your own backyard. Ticks do not fly or jump; they attach to animals or people that come into direct contact with them. Ticks can be active any time when the temperature is above freezing, but are most active between May and October.
The good news is that tickborne diseases can be prevented. The following steps will help to prevent you, your children and your pets from contracting tickborne diseases.
- Protective Clothing: Wear a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into boots or socks if you are in an area where ticks are likely to be found.
- Repellents that contain DEET can be used on exposed skin. Permethrin is a product that can be used on your clothes. Always follow the product instructions and use repellents with no more that 30-35% DEET for adults and 10-15% DEET for children. Never use insect repellents on infants. According to the CDC, deet-free repellents that work include Cutter Advanced which contains picaridin, and Repel which contains the synthesized version of OLE (oil of lemon eucalyptus). Always read the product label to determine safety and effectiveness.
- Tick Checks: After returning indoors, examine your skin, clothing, children and pets for ticks.
- Remove Ticks: If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Use a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure. The tick should not be squeezed or twisted.
- Medical Care: Talk to your doctor if you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles.
- Environment: Reduce the number of ticks around your home by clearing brush and keeping grass cut short.
- Pets: If you own a pet, talk to your vet about products that protect them from tickborne diseases.