weather usually means more time spent outside. With that extra time
comes an increased risk of tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme, the most
common tick-borne disease, as well as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky
Mountain Spotted Fever. Symptoms often begin as flu-like with fevers,
chills, aches and pains, and a rash. Left untreated, some tick-borne
diseases can lead to serious illness and in some cases can be fatal.
According to Gail Jackson, RN, BSN, CIC, Newport Hospital’s infection
prevention coordinator, the best way to prevent the spread of tick-borne
diseases is to keep a tick bite from ever happening.
“Ticks are easy to find in the northeast and they love to live among
tall grasses and wooded areas,” Jackson explains. “And while they are
prevalent in Rhode Island, there are steps we can take to protect
ourselves from tick bites.”
Below are some general prevention tips when spending
time outside in the woods or near tall grasses.
Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with
overgrown grass and leaf litter.
Tuck pants into socks to create a barrier and wear
light-colored clothing to help spot ticks.
Use repellents. Spray repellent containing a 20 percent
concentration of DEET on clothes and exposed skin. You
can also treat clothes, tents, etc., with permethrin,
which kills ticks on contact. Do not use directly on
Check skin and clothes for ticks every day and
bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming
Examine gear and pets.
Immediately remove ticks from your body using
Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for one
hour to kill remaining ticks.
The backyard is a common place to find ticks, but it’s easy to create a
tick-free zone through landscaping.
Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the
edge of lawns.
Place a three-foot barrier of wood chips or gravel
between lawns and wooded areas, and around patios and
play equipment to restrict tick migration. (Ticks cannot
fly or jump, but can crawl onto people and animals as
they brush against them.)
Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
Stack wood neatly and in a dry area.
Keep playground equipment, decks and patios away from
yard edges and trees. Place them in a sunny location.
Remove any old furniture and trash from the yard that
may give ticks a place to hide.
“It’s important to be vigilant when it comes to the threat of tick-borne
diseases,” says Jackson. “But with the proper precautions and prevention
techniques, you can protect yourself, your pets and your family from