News Releases

May 02, 2008

Tick –Borne Illnesses Increase in Vermont

Agriculture officials urge precautions against bites from this blood-sucking parasite

Waterbury, Vt – The tick population in Vermont increases in April and October each year making anyone participating in outdoor activities at risk for tick bites.

While there are numerous species of ticks found in Vermont, the most common and most dangerous is the deer tick which can transmit Lyme disease. There has been a significant increase in incidents of Lyme disease in Vermont in recent years. Lyme disease is a debilitating illness that causes flu like symptoms such as headache, chills, rash, fatigue and joint pain.

“The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a circular, reddish rash enlarging from the site of the tick bite. The rash may have the appearance of a “bull’s eye,” said Jon Turmel, State Entomologist with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. “Flu like symptoms usually occur within three to 32 days after a bite from an infected tick.”

To prevent tick bites, wear long pants and sleeves when in areas that are likely to have ticks such as moist shaded areas with high grasses, bushes or woods. Tuck pants legs into socks and shirts into pants. Wear light-colored clothes so that ticks are easier to see. Use a repellent containing DEET and or permethrin on clothing to keep ticks from biting. Check body, clothing and pets thoroughly for ticks after returning from an area where they may be present.

“It’s very important to remove a tick immediately if you find one on you or your pet. Biting ticks must remain attached to the human body for several hours to transmit disease,” said Turmel. “To remove a tick safely, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull gently and slowly away from the skin. Don’t twist, jerk or pull hard on the tick. It’s also a good idea to save the tick in a vial or bag in case you develop symptoms of Lyme disease.”

Prevent Tick-Bites and Tick-Borne Illness

• Check for ticks on your body or clothing after returning from wooded or grassy areas. Some ticks are very small (about the size of a poppy seed) so ask for help to inspect areas that you cannot see yourself.

• Quickly remove any ticks you find using fine-tipped tweezers if possible.

• Avoid walking in heavily wooded areas; try to stick to cleared paths.

• Apply insect repellents that contain DEET and or permethrin (use according to manufacturer's instructions).

• Wear light-colored clothing to allow you to better see ticks that crawl on your clothing.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up the inside of your pant legs.

• Speak to your veterinarian about tick prevention products for your pets.

• If you get a rash or a fever, let the doctor know if you may have been exposed to ticks, even if you don't remember having a tick bite.

How to Remove Ticks

Use tweezers to grasp them as close to your skin's surface as possible, and pull up on the tick with slow, even pressure. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick's body. After the tick is removed, wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water to help reduce the chance of infection. Using matches, petroleum jelly or other home remedies do not work well to remove ticks.

If you do develop symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical care. For more information about ticks and preventing tick bites visit www.vermontagriculture.com.

Source: Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Last Updated at: May 02, 2008 16:20:28