Nebraskans are spending a lot of time outdoors now which may expose them to a tiny insect that could mean big trouble.
Epidemiologist Dr. Patty Quinlisk says ticks are very active during the summer months and carry several diseases — the most common is Lyme disease. Dr. Quinlisk says it’s fairly easy to prevent bites if you keep your skin covered in areas where ticks may be crawling.
“Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and tuck your pants into your socks. I know that’s going to look like a nerd, but it will stop those ticks from coming up underneath your pant leg,” Quinlisk explains. “Then, you need to wear insect repellent and the one that works against ticks is the one that contains DEET.” Even if you avoid wooded and tall grassy areas where ticks are most often found, she says that doesn’t ensure you’ll be safe from bites.
“Ticks can be found anywhere, so I’ll just tell you, I wear insect repellent containing DEET when I go out into my garden just to be sure,” Quinlisk says. “Certainly, the higher risk would be in areas where there is wildlife — where there is deer, small rodents, things like that.”
If you find a tick latched onto your body, Quinlisk says you should remove it right away to prevent exposure to a disease.
She says you don’t want to do anything that would cause a tick to regurgitate into you, because that could transmit the disease. You should get down as close to your body as you can with your fingernails or tweezers and pull the tick straight out.
Nebraska sees between five and ten Lyme disease cases per year and perhaps 20 cases of another tick-borne disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.