Michigan’s tick season is between April and September, when the temperature outside is above 40° F. Michigan is home to over 20 known tick species, with wood ticks and deer ticks accounting for approximately 90% of ticks found in the state. These ticks may carry diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Lyme disease, and more. As the weather warms up, it is important to take necessary precautions to protect ourselves.
“You can prevent tick bites by protecting yourself through clothing (long sleeves and pants), and insect repellant, and by wearing gear pre-treated with permethrin,” said Nicole Frey, DO, a resident physician at McLaren Greater Lansing Family Medicine. “You can avoid contact with ticks by not going through grassy or wooded areas where ticks live. If you are taking a walk, stay to the center of the trail. Lastly, make sure to examine your skin, clothing, and gear when you return indoors and shower within two hours to help wash off unattached ticks.”
If you do get bitten by a tick, Dr. Frey advises to remove the attached tick as soon as possible by using fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and steadily pull upward. After removing the tick, clean the bite with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. Taking a picture of the tick before disposing of it will help your primary care physician with identification and provide appropriate treatment options if needed. These steps are typically enough to prevent disease transmission through tick bites.
“You should follow up with your primary care physician if you develop a rash, fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, or joint pain and swelling within weeks after removing a tick,” said Dr. Frey. “Be prepared to tell when the tick bite occurred, where you suspect you acquired the tick, and how long you believe the tick was attached.”
The appropriate treatment for a tick bite will depend on the individual case. In areas where Lyme disease is common, some patients may require antibiotic treatment.
“The best thing you can do during this tick season is to be alert. You should check yourself for ticks immediately upon returning indoors from potentially tick-infested areas,” said Dr. Frey. “You can use a mirror to view all parts of your body, paying close attention to under your arms, in and around your ears, inside your belly button, the backs of your knees, in and around your hair, between the legs, and around the waist.”
If you have pets or kids playing outside, be sure to check them for any ticks as well before they come into the house.
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