Tick Season Facts: How to Prevent Parasite-Borne Diseases

Tick season is upon us, which means that more and more people are going to start becoming infected with illnesses caused by the parasites.

Most of the bites that lead to disease come in the spring and summer seasons, the U.S. National Institutes of Health explained, and more people are moving to tick territory.

“Tick-borne diseases are becoming a serious problem in the United States as people increasingly build homes in formerly uninhabited wilderness areas where ticks and their animal hosts live,” NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

Diseases from ticks

Ticks can carry and transmit a number of illnesses, most notoriously Lyme disease, a bacterial illness that causes a rash, fever, headache and fatigue. The disease can spread throughout the body if untreated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an entire list of tick-borne diseases ranging from Colorado tick fever, which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains, to Powassan virus, which can cause vomiting, seizures, memory loss and confusion. There is also Rocky Mountain spotted fever, the potentially life-threatening bacterial disease known for a rash in the pattern of red splotches or dots.

Avoid tick bites

According to the CDC, people can avoid contact with ticks by staying away from the woods or areas heavy in brush, tall grass and leaves. There are also tick repellents that can be used on clothing or bare skin.

When contact with a tick may have occurred, people can check their bodies with their hands and using a mirror, including behind the ears, under arms and in hair. Showering after being outside may also help.

Putting clothes in a dryer for 10 minutes or washing them in hot water is also recommended.

Once you are bitten

The way to remove a tick is slowly and carefully. According to the NIH, the person should cover their hands with gloves or a tissue and then use tweezers to grab the parasite as close to the skin as possible. Take off the tick with a slow and steady movement, rather than a quick pull or twist. The tick should be placed in a plastic bag in the freezer, still avoiding contact with the creature and its fluids, so it can be identified later if the bitten person falls ill.

Both the wound and hands should be disinfected afterward.

tick-bite During peak tick season, people should take precautions against bites that can transmit serious illnesses. BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images