Lyme Disease (Ticks)

Spring / summer are officially here, triggering the imagination of warmer weather and longer days. As we look forward of turning down the thermostats, opening windows and spending more time outdoors, Gene Gagnon a Registered Sanitarian of the Plainville-Southington Health District would like to remind everyone, “ticks which transmit Lyme Disease, become more active when temperatures are above 35F and since Connecticut is in the top ten for states reporting cases to the US Centers for Disease and Prevention, this is a little too close for home.”

Lyme disease makes hundreds of thousands of people sick every year; it is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Children are especially hard hit by Lyme disease with the highest incidence among children between the ages of 5 -14.
Ticks live in places where there is a lot of tall grass, shrubs, and leaves. Ticks wait for an animal (like deer, a mouse, or a dog) or a person to walk by. Ticks then grab on to the animal or humans to find a good place to attach themselves. They might hide in a person’s hair, or behind the knee, or even under clothing. Ticks bite into a person or animal’s skin and start drinking their blood. Tick bites don’t usually hurt, so you may not even notice. The tick can stay attached for a few days. When it is full it will fall off.

To prevent tick bites

  • Avoid tall grass and overgrown, brushy areas.
  • When hiking in wooded areas, stay in the middle of trails.
  • Consider using insect repellent, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Tuck pant leg into socks, wear long-sleeved shirts, and closed shoes.
  • Wear light colored clothing to see the ticks easier for removal.
  • When returning indoors, shower using a wash cloth or puff to remove any attached ticks.
  • Examine yourself, children, and pets for ticks when returning indoors.
  • Talk to your veterinarian to find out how to protect your pets from tick bites.

What to do after a tick bite

  • If you or a loved one is bitten, remove the tick promptly.
  • Grasp the tick’s mouthparts against the skin, using pointed narrow tweezers.
  • Pull steady until you can ease the tick out of the skin.
  • DO NOT pull sharply; this may tear the mouthparts from the body of the tick and leave them embedded in the skin.
  • DO NOT squeeze or crush the body of the tick; this may force fluids from the tick into the skin.
  • DO NOT apply substances such as petroleum jelly, nail polish, or light a match to the tick while it is attached. They may agitate the tick and force more infected fluid into the skin.
  • Once you removed the tick, wash wound site with soap and water.
  • Observe the bite site over the next several weeks for any signs of expanding rash.
  • Removing ticks within 36 hours of attachment reduces the risk of infection.

If you are bitten by a tick, a small red bump may appear in a few days to a week, usually at the site of the bite. The bump may feel warm and tender when touched. It may resemble a bull’s eye, with a red ring surrounding a clear area and a red center; it is often confused with a spider bite.

Contact your physician for a further evaluation.
An engorged deer tick can be tested through the Plainville-Southington Health District.

For more information about ticks and Lyme disease contact the Plainville-Southington Health District at 860-276-6275.

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