Learn the risk of getting a tickborne disease while outdoors 05-29-24

May 29, 2024

Learn the risk of getting a tickborne disease while outdoors

MOBILE, Ala. — Lyme Disease Awareness Month is observed during May. Individuals can reduce their risk of getting Lyme disease by using EPA-registered insect repellents to prevent tick bites, checking for ticks daily, and showering after coming indoors.

Tickborne diseases are transmitted to a person from the bite of an infected tick. Some common ticks in Alabama are the Blacklegged (Deer), American Dog (Wood), and Lone Star. Ticks typically dwell in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas.

Although they are more active in the early spring and late fall months, tickborne illnesses have been reported year-round in Alabama. It is vital to remain vigilant by conducting tick checks whenever you return from the outdoors.

“Quickly removing a tick is a critical preventive measure,” said Dr. Kevin Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “You need to ensure that you get all the mouth parts from the skin after the tick latches on or bites the individual.”

Early symptoms of tickborne diseases can be variable, but often include fever, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or rash. Sometimes, tickborne diseases may become severe or even life-threatening if not treated. For example, untreated spotted fever rickettsiosis may lead to encephalitis, shock, seizures, gangrene, and/or acute respiratory or renal failure within a week of becoming sick. Untreated Lyme disease may cause arthritis as well as various neurologic and cardiac problems days to months after first becoming ill.

You can lower your risk of getting a tickborne disease while outdoors by:

• Avoiding wooded and brushy areas where ticks tend to live,
• Walking in the center of trails,
• Using repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin,
• Treating clothes with 0.5 percent permethrin,
• Finding and removing ticks from your body and clothing within 2 hours of coming indoors.

A tick on clothing is a sure sign to do a closer skin check on children and adults. “Check your buddy,” Dr. Michaels added.

To learn more, visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/tick/index.html.