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Ticks Enjoy the Season at Your Peril

If summer is the prize for having survived a long and arduous winter, then ticks are the price you pay for it. It is tick season again, and a good time for you to heed some advice for avoiding the insects, which carry Lyme and other infectious diseases.

Lyme disease, commonly transmitted by infected ticks, is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. There are more cases of Lyme disease reported than any other vector-borne disease in the United States, where 29,959 confirmed cases and 8,509 probable cases of Lyme disease were reported in 2009.

To avoid Lyme disease the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the following suggestions:

Know where you'll find ticks, which live in moist and humid environments, in or near wooded or grassy areas. You can come into contact with them during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails.

Use an insect repellent on skin or clothing with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamideor) and permethrin on clothing and gear. Products with permethrin, which remains protective through several washings, can be used to treat boots and clothing. Repellents containing 20 percent or more DEET can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Parents should apply repellents to their children and should take care to avoid hands, eyes and mouth.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even if only briefly and in your own yard. When you've left a potentially tick-infested area, search your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any ticks you find. Take special care to check these parts of your child's and your body for ticks:

Under the arms

In and around the ears

Inside belly button

Back of the knees

In and around all head and body hair

Between the legs

Around the waist

Ticks can be carried into the house on clothing and pets so both should be examined carefully. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

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