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Definition of Tick-borne disease

Tick-borne disease: A disease carried by or caused by a tick. The tick-borne diseases in the US include:

  • Babesiosis (a malaria-like infection)
  • Colorado tick fever (generally in the western US)
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Relapsing fever (also called tick fever, most common in the western US)
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (throughout the US but most prevalent in the east)
  • Tick paralysis
  • Tularemia (rabbit fever)

Anyone working in the outdoors, especially in areas with tall grasses, shrubs, low hanging branches, or leaf mold is susceptible to being bitten by a tick. Ticks do not jump, crawl, or fall onto a person. They are picked up when your clothing or hair brushes a leaf or other object they are on. Ticks are generally found within three feet of the ground. Once picked up, they will crawl until they find a likely site to feed. Often they will find a spot at the back of a knee, near the hairline, or behind the ears.

The best way to prevent tick borne diseases is not to be being bitten by a tick. There are several things you can do which will lessen your chance of being bitten.

  • Wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt, tuck the shirt into your pants, tuck the pants into your socks or boots or use tape to close the opening were they meet
  • Wear a hat, tie back long hair
  • Use an EPA approved insect repellant or arachnicide (pesticide) which is effective for ticks, such as DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or pyrethrin. Be sure and follow all precautionary information, and be aware that some people are sensitive to these chemicals.
  • Wear light colored clothing so that a tick can be seen better.
  • Change clothes when you return from a area where ticks may be located.
  • Shower to wash off any loose ticks.

Check for ticks and remove them properly:

  • Check clothing for ticks on a frequent basis.
  • If you find a tick, do a more thorough tick check. When you return from an area where ticks may be located, check all of your body for ticks. It may be helpful to have someone else check your back or other areas which are difficult to see. Be sure to include:
    • Parts that bend (back of knee, between fingers and toes, underarms).
    • Pressure points where clothing presses against skin (underwear elastic, belts, neck).
    • Other common areas (belly button, around or in ear, hairline, top of head).
  • Once inside do a final thorough tick check and clothing change.
  • If you are in a tick infested area or an area known to have disease carrying ticks, perform the checks on a more regular basis.
  • Remove unattached ticks promptly.
  • Attached ticks are promptly removed using fine pointed tweezers:
    • The mouth parts of the tick are grasped with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible;
    • Apply firm steady pressure upward until the tick releases - do not jerk, twist, squash or squeeze the tick;
    • Clean the wound and the tweezers with an antiseptic.
    • Do not use petroleum jelly or nail polish remover, or prick or burn the tick, these actions can cause infected juices to enter the wound.

Place clothing worn in tick infested areas in the dryer for at least 30 minutes in order to kill any ticks. Be sure and check pets and other animals for ticks. Use approved tick repellents or products which kill ticks. If you want to have the tick checked for disease, place the tick in a clean vial or ziplock bag with a blade of grass, then contact your State Health Department for more information.

Source: MedTerms™ Medical Dictionary
http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=19180
Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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