With all the outdoor activities during the summer months, we want to raise awareness about the dangers of tick-borne diseases that are on the rise throughout the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says simply that people should avoid direct contact with ticks.

In order to do that the CDC recommends:

— Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

— Walk in the center of trails.

Of course with all the great outdoor experiences that South Georgia has to offer, hunting, fishing, hiking, even playing ball, going to the playground or even enjoying your own backyard, it is not always possible to completely avoid the pesky creatures.

The CDC also strongly recommends the use of repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET.

While people try various homeopathic repellents including such things as certain herbs, Skin So Soft and even rubbing down with dryer sheets, none of these things are proven to repel ticks, chiggers or mosquitoes.

The center says parents should apply repellents on their children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.

Products that contain permethrin should be applied on clothing.

“Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer,” the CDC said on its website.

If exposed to ticks, the CDC suggests:

— Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

— Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in their hair.

— Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.

— Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

The CDC cautions, “If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick-removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.”

Here are the Centers’ recommendations for how to remove a tick:

— Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

— Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

— After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

— Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

According to the CDC, tick-borne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. Some of the symptoms might include:

— Fever/chills

— Aches and pains

— Rash

According to the CDC, tick-borne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to good outcomes.

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