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Chester County Health Department Offers Advice on Preventing Tick-borne Diseases

Post Date:06/01/2017 3:04 PM

June 1, 2017
News Release #5
For more information, call 610-344-5209

Chester County Health Department offers advice
on preventing tick-borne diseases

West Chester, PA – Now that warm weather has arrived, the Chester County Health Department encourages residents to take action to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick. While there is no Lyme disease vaccine available for humans, residents can reduce their risk through personal protection and simple landscaping techniques.

During the spring, summer and fall months, consider the following actions:

  • Wear layers of light-colored clothing to protect your skin from tick bites. This includes long socks, shoes, long sleeved shirts, and hats.
  • If you choose to use insect repellents, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. When used as directed, EPA-registered repellents are demonstrated to be safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
    • Read and follow product instructions carefully.
    • Reapply repellent as directed.
    • Do NOT spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Clothing and gear treated with permethrin or permethrin spray for clothing is available for purchase. Read and follow product information carefully to determine if this is a solution for you.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
  • Shower within 1-2 hours of being outdoors and check your body for ticks. Ticks are attracted to warm, dark areas, such as the armpits, groin, bellybutton, and behind the ears and knees.
  • To protect your child:
    • Do NOT use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
    • Do NOT use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
    • Do NOT apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • To protect your pets:
    • Ask your veterinarian about ways to protect your family pets.
    • Do NOT use any product on pets unless it is specifically made for pets.

Chester County Health Department also recommends that residents consider the following actions to reduce tick populations:

  • Remove leaf litter and trash from your yard.
  • Clear tall grasses and brush around your home and at the edge of lawns.
  • Mow the lawn frequently.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area to discourage rodents.
  • Place a 3-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas.
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
  • Use fencing to keep unwelcome animals (ex. deer) out of your yard.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, remove it with tweezers or a tick lifter and call your doctor. Be alert for early symptoms of Lyme disease, which may include a rash, severe fatigue, high fever, swollen joints, joint pain, and headaches. Please note that symptoms of Lyme disease and other tick-related illnesses vary from person to person.

The Chester County Health Department does not test ticks. For more information or to request a Lyme disease prevention presentation, please contact Lindsay Smith, Public Health Educator, at 610-344-5209.