Because of our mild winter and warm spring, the FDA issued a warning to consumers on June 26, 2013 that tick season has started early. According to the warning, bites from deer ticks that are common in the Northeast and upper Midwest can transmit Lyme disease and other diseases. Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in the U.S.
Ticks can also carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis, a bacterial disease. . In fact, different kinds of ticks in the U.S. may be infected with bacteria, viruses and parasites that can be transmitted to people and cause at least 10 diseases. In the elderly, newborns, or people with a weak immune system or without a spleen, these diseases can be life threatening.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved treatments for the diseases, but prevention is the easiest, cheapest and most effective way to fight these serious, sometimes fatal diseases. Here are some precautions recommended by the FDA and the National Institutes of Health:
Educate yourself about Lyme disease
Avoid wooded, brushy, and grassy areas, especially in May, June, and July. (Contact the local health department or park/extension service for information on the prevalence of ticks in specific areas.)
Wear light-colored clothing so that you can see ticks that get on you.
Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
Wear shoes that cover the entire foot.
Tuck pant legs into socks or shoes, and tuck shirts into pants.
Wear a hat for extra protection.
Spray insect repellent containing 20 – 30% DEET on clothes and exposed skin other than the face, or treat clothes with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact. Do not apply permethrin directly to skin. Carefully follow manufacturers instructions when using these products on infants and children.
Walk in the center of trails to avoid brush and grass.
Remove your clothing, and wash and dry them at high temperatures after being outdoors.
Do a careful body check for ticks after outdoor activities.
Before letting pets indoors, check them for ticks. Ticks may fall off and then attach to humans. Pets can also develop Lyme disease.
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