Those enjoying the outdoors as the weather warms are advised to take precautions against ticks, which can create their own serious health hazards in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Ticks are small, insect-like creatures found throughout Indiana in grassy and wooded areas, the Allen County Health Department said Friday. Ticks tend to be most active during the late spring and early summer. Recent field sampling by the state health department has detected ticks are already active.
Ticks, which can sometimes transmit serious and potentially fatal diseases like Lyme disease, are found in grassy, brushy areas where they wait for a host to pass by. Many diseases transmitted by ticks can be treated when caught early, so people are urged to call a doctor right away if they develop fever, rash or flu-like symptoms after being in tick-infested areas, the local health department said.
Residents living near grassy and wooded areas should create a 3-foot-wide barrier of stone or mulch between their yard and those areas.
• Wear a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants with the shirt tucked in at the waist and pants tucked into socks if in grassy or wooded areas.
• Treat clothing and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin, which is an insect repellent specifically designed for this purpose, but it should not be used on bare skin.
• Use EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or 2-undecanone.
• Treat pets for ticks.
Once indoors, people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets and skin. Tumbling clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill ticks, and showering can help remove any unattached ticks.
State health officials say ticks usually need to be attached for several hours to a couple of days before they can transmit disease, so quickly finding and removing them is key.
Ticks may be safely removed by using tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and pulling outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is removed, the area should be washed thoroughly.
The tick should be discarded by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Ticks should never be crushed with the fingernails.