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Ways to Protect Yourself From Tick-Borne Diseases

Ways to Protect Yourself From Tick-Borne Diseases

The CDC reports that the number of tick-borne diseases has more than doubled in the US.

When The Tick premiered on Amazon in 2016, it seemed unlikely that the public would bite. But with 10 more episodes slated for 2019, it looks like The Tick, a super-resistant superhero who dresses in a tick costume, has taken up residence in enough TV-viewing homes to be a keeper. Ticks are like that.

Areas with specific tick infestations are expanding. In the past 13 years, the number of reported tick-borne diseases has more than doubled in the US. You may be familiar with some of them, such as Lyme disease. But, from 2004 through 2016, seven new tick-borne germs that can infect people have been identified.

On top of that, some ticks are especially fond of your pets. One example is the so-called dog tick, which carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A CDC report identified another variety—the brown dog tick—that’s sickened untold dogs and 4,000 folks since 2008 in Mexicali, a city on the southern side of the US-Mexico border. As this critter migrates northward and indoors, it’s spreading a Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection that’s more aggressive than the standard American dog tick’s.

So, whether you are in the southwest, a mountainous region, New England or the upper Midwest, you need to protect yourself from ticks by doing the following:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent (think DEET)—find one at EPA.gov.
  • Outside, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Put DEET on your clothes, too.
  • Examine yourself carefully whenever returning indoors, especially your legs.
  • Examine pets daily and remove ticks carefully with tweezers.

Medically reviewed in April 2020.

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