There are several kinds of ticks in Maryland that can transmit disease when they bite people or their pets.
With warmer weather and tick season right around the corner, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) reminds Maryland residents that they can protect themselves and their families from tick bites and tickborne diseases, including Lyme disease. "Ticks can transmit diseases," said Dr. Catherine Feldman, State Public Health Veterinarian. "One of the primary concerns is Lyme disease." Three to 30 days after a tick bite, someone who has likely come down with Lyme disease will develop a rash. "That is a gradually, expanding rash, and it may look like a bulls eye or a target, and that does occur in about 70% to 80% of people with the disease," continued Feldman.
There are several kinds of ticks in Maryland that can transmit disease when they bite people or their pets. These ticks are most commonly found in wooded and brushy areas, shrubs, leaf litter and tall grass - and even in people's backyards.
One of the smallest ticks - the black-legged tick - causes some of the biggest problems because it is so small and can transmit several tickborne diseases, including Lyme disease. Many tickborne diseases have similar early symptoms, including fever, headache, fatigue and possible rash. However, the signs and symptoms may vary, so it is important that people contact their health care provider if they develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite or after being in tick habitat. Most cases of tick-borne disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially when treatment is started early.
To prevent Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, DHMH recommends Maryland residents take the following precautions:
Wear long pants and long sleeves to help keep ticks off of skin;
Wear light colored clothing to spot ticks more easily;
When planning to be in an environment where ticks are often found, use repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours. Parents should apply repellent to children; the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products with up to 30 percent DEET for kids. Always follow product instructions;
Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, with permethrin, or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin;
Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails when hiking;
Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find crawling ticks before they bite;
Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of the body upon returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should help children check thoroughly for ticks. Remove any ticks right away;
Remove an attached tick with tweezers by grasping it as close to the skin as possible and pulling firmly and gently straight up and washing the area well with soap and water; and
Talk to a veterinarian about tick control products for pets.
More information about Lyme disease and how it is transmitted, including tips on how to prevent tick bites and disease transmission from tick bites, can be found at www.ideha.dhmh.maryland.gov .