Chesterton Tribune

Tick season: Protect yourself when in wooded or grassy areas

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The Indiana State Department of Health (IDOH) is cautioning Hoosiers to protect themselves as the weather warms and tick season begins.

Ticks are small, insect-like creatures often found in naturally vegetated areas or woodlands throughout Indiana, IDOH said in a statement released on Monday. Last year, Indiana confirmed 62 cases of Lyme disease, one case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, one case of Ehrlichiosis, and two cases of Tularemia.

“Ticks become active when the temperatures rise,” said Jennifer House, veterinary epidemiologist at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Like mosquitoes, ticks are carriers of a number of diseases and all ticks should be considered infectious and capable of transmitting diseases, even though some are not.”

IDOH recommends that if folks plan to enter a grassy or wooded area where ticks are often present, the best way to prevent tick-transmitted diseases is to wear a long-sleeved shirt and light-colored pants, with the shirt tucked in at the waist and the pants tucked into socks. The use of repellents provides even more protection.

Insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin can be sprayed on both skin and clothing to repel ticks and other insects. People who expect to be exposed to tick habitat for extended periods of time should use products containing permethrin on their clothing. Permethrin is an insecticide that kills ticks and other insects on contact.

After leaving a grassy or wooded area, people should check for ticks on clothing and skin. Ticks need to be attached from several hours to a couple of days before they can infect an individual. If these diseases are diagnosed promptly, all of them can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

“If a tick is attached to your skin, it can be removed with either tweezers or forceps by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible,” House said. “Ticks should not be removed with bare fingers, but if tweezers or forceps are not available, you can use tissue paper or a paper towel to prevent the passing of any possible infection.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often associated with a persistent, slowly expanding blotchy red rash which is usually fainter at the center than at the edges. Other signs and symptoms include joint pain or swelling, especially in the knees; fatigue; difficulty in concentrating; headache; stiff neck or weakness of the facial muscles; dizziness; and an irregular heartbeat.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

The symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis and Tularemia are similar. They include a moderate-to-high fever, coupled with fatigue; muscle aches and pains; severe headaches; and chills. With Rocky Mountain spotted fever a rash may also develop shortly after disease onset, first appearing on the arms, legs, palms of the hand and soles of the feet before spreading to other parts of the body.

For more information about tick-borne diseases, visit




Posted 5/17/2011