Tick Safety

You’ve probably heard about our tick problem in Massachusetts. The good thing is, with a couple simple steps, ticks are no longer a worry.

Understand the risk - Take preventative measures - Complete post-hike steps

 

Risk 

Avoid contact – Ticks usually contact you from the ground and from leaves and branches that brush up against you while you’re in nature. 

Attachment - Ticks often attach around 2 hrs after initial contact, and many times much later. Rarely do they attach within 10 minutes of initial contact.

Size – Ticks are found in varying sizes, down to less than1 millimeter. When you check yourself make sure to look for teeny tiny ticks as well as obvious ones.

Harmful bacteria

  • 8 hrs: In rare cases transmission of harmful bacteria from a tick can occur 8 hrs after attachment. 
  • 24 hrs: The CDC notes that if a tick is removed within 24 hrs from attachment, risk of harm is very low.
  • 36-48 hrs: In most cases it takes 36-48 hrs for an attached tick to transmit harmful bacteria.

 

 *The shortest time from contact to transmission of harmful bacteria is about 8.5 hours, with an average time significantly longer - plenty of time to act to ensure safety.

 

Prevention

Avoid Contact - Stay in the middle of trails and avoid contact with encroaching plants. Avoid heading off-trail – but if you do, the below information will have you covered.

Clothing – Wear long clothing when possible, with your pants tucked into your socks. The lighter in color the easier to locate ticks before they reach skin.

Bug Repellant – Apply repellant with high deet content directly before your hike with a focus on your footwear and legs. You can also treat your clothing before hikes with permethrin (not for use on skin) in the wash, which will last for several weeks and washings. 

        

      Post Hike

      Directly after your hike use a lint roller thoroughly below the waist, on your arms, and anywhere else you’re worried about. Also check your backpack. You’ll quickly see how many are around.

      Untuck your pants from your socks and check your lower legs, perhaps the most popular tick starting point.

      Before you get in the car do a quick but more thorough check of your body focusing on exposed or close-to-exposed areas (ankles, wrists, stomach, neck). Check those kiddos also.

      Within 6 hrs of the hike do a very thorough body check, looking in all the nooks & crannies and taking note of the smallest speck. Think between toes and along hairlines. Showers will not remove ticks.

      Do a final check before bed. Have someone check your back and other places you can’t see. If a tick is attached, you won’t feel any pain or itching.

         

        Understanding these risks, taking steps to prevent contact, and doing thorough checks will significantly reduce and even remove the risks associated with ticks.

        You can keep enjoying the outdoors with no tick worries.

         

        For more information consult with your doctor and go to www.mass.gov/tick-borne-diseases.