Summer is coming . . .finally!? I know there’s nothing better than being able to put on shorts and a T-shirt after a long winter, but before you head outdoors, don’t forget that ticks are out too!

There are several things you can do to protect yourself and your family from ticks and the diseases they can transmit, including Lyme disease – an infection spread by the bite of a black-legged tick, commonly known as the deer tick.

When outdoors, avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.? Wear light colored clothing so you can see ticks that attach to your clothing. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Clothing and gear can be treated with products containing permethrin, which can protect you from ticks through several washings.? Always follow the manufacturer?s directions for safe use.

Check yourself and your children for ticks every time you come in from outdoors. Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and find ticks. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets and attach to a person later, so remember to check your gear and pets too.? Remove any tick you find with a pair of tweezers. Grab the tick close to the skin (without twisting it) and gently pull straight up until all parts of the skin are removed. Carefully wash the area after removal of the tick.

If you are bitten by a tick, be sure to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a red, expanding rash. The rash may look like a bull’s-eye because the center of the rash may clear as it spreads, but it may just look like a round red patch that grows gradually over several days.  Early treatment of Lyme disease is best, so call your doctor if you have a fever or a rash.  A history of a known tick bite will help the doctor to know if Lyme disease is the cause of an illness. However, many people with Lyme disease do not remember being bitten by a deer tick because they can be so small. If you are concerned, do not hesitate to seek out your primary care provider.  For more information on Lyme Disease and Tick Prevention, please go to www.healthvermont.gov.