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Tips on Ticks from the Health Department

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and this year there may be more ticks than last year.

The Fairfax County health department is reminding residents to be vigilant to ticks as part of Lyme Disease Awareness month.

This year's tick population may be unusually high because of the mild winter and warm spring—ticks are active earlier and people are spending more outside, the NBC Nightly News reported.

In addition, a good acorn crop two years ago and a poor crop last year also impacted the white-footed mouse population in some areas of the country, and the mice are a prime food source for ticks, MSNBC reported.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors named May as the awareness month in a recent county commission meeting.

The health department reminds residents that Lyme disease is spread through the bit of an infected backlegged tick, or deer tick.

How to protect yourself, from the health department:

  • Avoid direct contact with ticks in wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.
  • Repellents with DEET can be applied to exposed skin to help repel ticks. Follow the label instructions.
  • Wear long, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Tuck your pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants so ticks don't have easy access to your skin.
  • Use permethrin on clothing. Permethrin kills ticks and there are formulations to treat your clothes sold at sporting goods stores. Follow the instructions on the label.
  • Check for ticks. While outside, take breaks to check yourself for ticks. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Promptly remove any attached ticks. Don’t panic if you find an attached tick.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine animals, coats, and backpacks.

For more information on how to avoid contracting ticks and to learn about the symptoms of Lyme disease, visit Fairfax County's website.

Richard Pollack May 08, 2012 at 11:16 AM
All very good advice. Finding and promptly removing ticks (from a person or pet) can dramatically reduce risk of infection. Once the tick has been removed, have it identified. Only certain kinds of ticks can transmit the agents of Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis. Other ticks may transmit other infections. The longer the tick is attached, the greater the risk of infection. Physical samples can be sent, or digital images uploaded, for a rapid, confidential, independent and expert evaluation. For more educational information and help with identification, visit https://identify.us.com. Richard Pollack, PhD (IdentifyUS LLC)
Michelle Herrera May 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM
BED BUGS! I have bed bugs. I hope the Health Department can do an article on getting rid of them. Bring back the poisons of yester-year. Please!!!!
Isle D Belle May 10, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Pesticides and other chemicals - like the poisons of yester-year are going to be our undoing. Don't be so nostalgic because we are finding out that some or the chemicals that we have been so blase about for years are disrupting our endocrine systems and causing a variety of serious illnesses. PFOA in non-stick surfaces is a serious problem and the human body can't seem to get rid of it. Scotchguard and other stain preventers, fire retardant pajamas for kids, parabens in shampoos and BPA in can linings are all found to be serious threats to our health. The corporations that use these chemicals are spending lots of money to convince you otherwise. Valid scientific studies support the harmfulness of these chemicals, but big business is putting up a big well-financed fight. It's like David adn Goliath. Read up and find ways to eliminate the products you find most unhealthy. http://www.babycenter.com/204_common-pesticide-linked-to-brain-abnormalities-in-kids_10367330.bc?scid=bigkid_20120508:3&pe=NFRUb1hofDIwMTIwNTA4

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