Protect Yourself Against Lyme Disease

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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It’s summer and a perfect time to participate in outdoor activities. While having fun outdoors, the Rockland County Commissioner of Health, Dr. Joan Facelle, reminds residents to protect themselves from tick bites and Lyme disease. To reduce your exposure to deer ticks and make outdoor activities both safe and fun, follow these simple steps:

* Conduct a daily tick check.

* Do a thorough tick-check of your entire body at the end of the day. Pay particular attention to the scalp, the neck, in/behind the ears, armpits, body truck, back, groin area and behind the knees.

* Check your kids and pets, too.

* Check your clothing for loose ticks.

Dress to protect.

* Wear light-colored clothing (to spot ticks better).

* Wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants.

* Tuck pant legs into socks and shirt into pants to reduce exposed skin.

* Wear white socks and enclosed shoes.

* Tie long hair back into an elastic band or wear a hat.

* Consider the use of a tick repellent.

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* Follow label directions. A repellent with DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) may be used on clothing or exposed skin. Products with a permethrin base should be used on clothing only, never on the skin.

More preventive measures:

* Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails when hiking in the woods.

* Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stonewalls.

* Stay out of the leaves.

* When returning home, clothes that may have been exposed to ticks can be put in a high temperature dryer for 20-30 minutes to kill any unseen ticks.

If you discover a tick on your body, it is important to remove it as soon as possible. Removing an attached tick within 36 hours, greatly reduces the risk of infection. Use the following procedure to correctly remove a tick:

* Grasp the tick’s mouthparts (at the point where the tick enters the skin) with fine point tweezers.

* Pull firmly in a steady upward direction until the tick releases it hold.

Do not use kerosene, matches or petroleum jelly to remove the tick.

* Wash the area with soap and water.

* Apply an antiseptic to the skin. Disinfect the tweezers.

* Record date and location of tick bite.

* Over the next 3-30 days, observe for a rash or other symptoms of Lyme disease, such as flu-like symptoms, fatigue, low grade fever, swollen glands, headache, neck stiffness, pain or stiffness in muscles or joints. If any symptoms occur or if you feel ill, call your health care provider.

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