Daily from April-December, everyone on Islesboro—even those who spend most of their time indoors—should take a variety of precautions to avoid being bitten by the black-legged tick, which transmits Lyme and several other diseases.
Before you go outside...
- Wear pale colored socks and pants so it’s easier to see ticks.
- Tuck pants into socks.
- Wear shoes.
- Wear a hat; tuck in hair if possible.
- Spray clothing, shoes, and exposed skin with a repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR 3535, or plant-derived oils such as cedar, rosemary, or eucalyptus. Permethrin, sprayed only on clothing, both repels and kills ticks and remains effective through many washings.
- Shorts and sandals or bare feet.
When you are outside...
- Walk in the middle of trails.
- Stay away from low bushes and leaf litter.
- During your walk, check your clothing from time to time.
- Sitting on logs, leaning on trees, wading through leaves.
When you come inside...
- Immediately remove clothes and toss them into a hot drier for 10 minutes.
- Shower or bathe within 2 hours.
- Look for ticks on legs, behind knees, on your back and in all warm, damp areas like ears, armpits, belly button, and groin area.
- Check hairline, nape of neck and run fingers through hair, checking for bumps.
- Throwing "worn” clothes into a hamper or onto a bed where a tick can travel to someone else.
When you find a tick...
- Use sticky duct tape to remove and dispose of crawling ticks from skin and clothing.
- If the tick is attached to your skin, remove it with a tick spoon (available free at the IHC or Town Office).
- You can also use pointy tweezers.
- Grasp tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. Don't pull or jerk the tick.
- Once removed, place the tick in a plastic bag and take it to the IHC to be examined under a microscope to determine if all parts were removed and if it's engorged with blood.
- Panicking! Few people are infected when a tick has been attached for less than 24 hours. Don't twist or jerk the tick, which can cause mouth parts to separate and remain in the skin.
Call the Health Center (734-2213) if...
- You’re unable to remove a tick.
- When a tick has been embedded more than 24 hours.
- If you discover a rash or have flu-like symptoms—fatigue, aches, joint pain.
Protect Your Children
- When applying repellent, spray it onto your own hands and then put it on the child.
- When children come back indoors, do as you would for yourself (putting clothes in dryer, doing a body check, washing off spray).
- Move play areas away from woody areas with leaf litter and tall grasses.
- Teach your kids how to do tick checks on themselves and to seek out an adult should they find one.
- Letting children handle repellents.
Protect Your Pets
Since dogs, cats, horses, and cows can contract Lyme and other tick-borne diseases...
- Talk to your veterinarian each spring about protecting your animals from tick bites. New products come on the market regularly. Recently, for instance, effective oral medications became available to protect dogs.
- Remove ticks from pets with the same care as used for humans.
- Dogs are 50% more likely to get Lyme or other tick-borne diseases than people. Look for symptoms: lameness, lethargy, swollen joints, enlarged lymph nodes, loss of appetite. Ticks can breed on dogs.
- If you suspect disease, have your animals tested.
- The chemical permethrin, used in some tick repellents including dog tick collars, is not toxic for most animals but when wet can cause life-threatening tremors and seizures to cats. Be sure that permethrin applied to clothing dries thoroughly.