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Tick awareness

Watch Tickology, a Barnstable County Deer Tick Project video series sponsored by Cape Cod Healthcare and learn to identify and avoid ticks and tick-borne illness.

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For more information or for help finding a physician, visit our online physician finder or call our Access Line at 877-CAPECOD.

Tick Protection & Lyme Disease Prevention

The first line of defense against tick-borne infection is you. The more you know in advance and the faster you take the right steps when bitten, the greater the chances of a healthy outcome.

Larry Dapsis, director of the Barnstable County Deer Tick Project, explains that ticks “attach to you, pets or other animals that brush up against them. Nymph stage ticks are found mostly at ground level. Adult stage ticks can be found up to a couple of feet off the ground on vegetation.” Once ticks attach to your shoes, socks or pant leg, they typically crawl up, looking for a place to feed.

Preventive measures

  • Wear light-colored clothing and socks to make it easier to spot a tick
  • Tuck your pant cuffs into socks
  • Check inside your cuffs
  • Use repellents and follow all instructions
  • Always do a tick check after coming inside
  • Tumble dry your clothes for 20 minutes

What to do if you find a tick on you

  • Once you have grasped the tick by its head, pull it up straight and avoid twisting it
  • Do not use matches, cigarettes, petroleum jelly, gasoline or nail polish remover
  • After removing the tick, apply antiseptic to the bite area
  • Note the date the tick was removed
  • Save the tick in a sealed bag for identification to determine if it is carrying infection – it will help to have as much data as possible when you see your doctor
  • Notify your primary care physician for next steps, which may include a blood test for Lyme disease and a course of antibiotics
  • You can send the tick specimen for a laboratory analysis at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Laboratory of Medical Zoology to be tested for Lyme disease and twenty other tick-borne pathogens. See resource information below for details.

Resources

  • To learn more about the UMass Amherst tick-borne disease diagnostic service, visit their Laboratory of Medical Zoology website, Tick Report at https://www.tickreport.com/
  • For information related to the preliminary identification of ticks and tick disease prevention, visit the TickEncounter Resource Center of the University of Rhode Island http://tickencounter.org/