Deer ticks cling to tall grass, brush, and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area. (NY)
Most tick bites won't give you a disease, but some can. It's not clear how long an infected tick must be attached before it transmits a disease (a crawling tick doesn't transmit anything). For Lyme disease, it probably takes one to three days. (Harvard)
How to protect yourself
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots, and shirt into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors, and check again once indoors. (NY)
- Consider using repellants: A product containing 20% or more DEET on exposed skin, and/or one containing permethrin to treat clothing. (CDC)
- Walk in the center of trails to avoid contacting vegetation. (NIH)
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground, logs, stone walls, etc. (NY)
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible to wash off and more easily find ticks.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held mirror..
- Examine clothes, gear, and pets. (CDC)
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with clean tweezers. If you can’t remove the mouth easily, leave it alone (the mouthparts by themselves don’t transmit the disease - NY).
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. (CDC)
If you’ve been exposed to ticks and you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, see your clinician—even if the symptoms go away on their own. The symptoms may appear 3 to 30 days after the bite. A tick-borne infection usually causes no lasting harm if it’s recognized and treated early. (Harvard, NY)
NY - New York State Department of Health
Harvard - Harvard Women’s Health Watch
CDC - Centers for Disease Control
NIH - National Institutes of Health
---compiled and edited by Alexia Smith