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Health officials' advice on how to protect yourself from disease-carrying ticks

Closeup of a tick on a plant straw
Risto Hunt ristohunt@yahoo.com/RistoH - stock.adobe.com
Closeup of a tick on a plant straw

State health officials are reminding people that with warmer weather here, ticks are coming out. If the temperature is above forty degrees, you might be visited by certain ticks such as the one carrying lyme disease while you’re in the great outdoors.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) advises you take precautions: wear clothes that cover as much skin as possible, and use an insect repellant –after you use sunscreen. You can find out more about the repellant that might be right for you from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency here.

“After you’re finished hiking, or hunting for mushrooms, or what have you in the great outdoors here in Michigan, also do the behavioral measures of removing whatever ticks may be crawling on you or attached to you as soon as you can,” said Emily Dinh, the Michigan health department’s medical entomologist.

“Ticks like going to places that are very protected like the navel, the armpits, behind ears, hair lines, behind knees, those sort of areas,” Dinh added.

Ticks can be tricky to find, so you might need some help.

“Hop into your bathroom and grab a friend or grab a mirror and look all over your body for anything that resembles a black pepper flake to a watermelon seed attached to you,” Dinh advises.

The smallest ones are the most hazardous ones. They might be carrying lyme disease. The MDHHS has a brochure that has more information on the kinds of ticks that are in Michigan and includes photos of them here, and advises where to expect to run into ticks. The brochure also information about lyme disease.

If you’re still not sure, you can submit a photo of your tick to the MDHHS for identification here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice on the best way to remove a tick here.

After you remove any ticks, keep an eye out for rashes or flu-like symptoms. If that happens, see a doctor.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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