Prevention of Lyme Disease

Prevention of Lyme Disease


Ticks are found in wooded areas, high grasses, marshes, gardens, and beach areas.  In residential areas, clearing brush and trees, removing leaves and woodpiles, and keeping grass mowed may reduce thick exposure by removing habitats favorable to ticks.  Area application of pesticides to residential areas can decrease ticks but may harm other wildlife and people.


Heavily infested tick habitats, such as wooded areas, should be avoided if possible.  If you have to travel in wooded areas, stay on trails and don’t sit down.  Choice of clothing worn is important: wear light clothing to make ticks stand out; long sleeves and long pants tucked into light-colored socks and are tight at wrists, ankles, and waist are preferable.  A hat should be worn in densely wooded areas.


Insect repellants that contain n,n-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) applied to the skin provide additional protection but require reapplication every 2 hours for 10% DEET and every 5 hours for 24% DEET.  Serious neurologic complications have been reported with the use of DEET, but are rare.  The repellant should be used according to the product label instructions, only to exposed skin, and not to the face, hands, or abraded skin.  After the child returns indoors, wash it off with soap and water.  Do not use products with greater than 30% DEET.  Insect repellants are approved for use in infants and children greater than 2 months old.


Parents should be instructed to inspect themselves and their children’s bodies and clothing daily after possible tick exposure.  Special attention should be given to the exposed hairy regions of the body, including children’s heads and necks.


Because animal studies indicate that transmission of the B.burgdorferi bacteria requires prolonged attachment (at least 24-48 hours), ticks should be removed promptly.  The body of the tick should not be squeezed during removal.  The tick should be grasped with fine tweezers as close to the skin as possible and removed by gently pulling the tick straight out without a twisting motion.  Analysis of ticks to see if they are infected is not indicated.



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