Beware of ticks!

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Ticks are not just a cause for concern for hikers. Ticks can live anywhere in grassy, busy and wooded areas. They can even be found living on your pets and can be carried into your home on your clothing. Though exposure is possible year-round, ticks are mostly active in the warmer, summer months.

If you enjoy the great outdoors—camping, gardening or even just walking outside—you should be aware of these tips, provided by Suffolk County Legis. presiding officer Rob Calarco, to avoid, prevent and handle ticks.

To remove ticks from clothing, tumble dry in dyer on high heat for 10 minutes; for wet clothing, additional time might be required. If you would like to wash the clothing first, be sure to use hot water, as cold and warm will not kill the tick. Check often and wear pants tucked into socks. Also, use repellant containing permethrin. The best course of action, though, is to avoid brushy areas by walking in the center of trails. It is also recommended to treat your pets with tick prevention prior to going outdoors.

Upon returning indoors, always check your clothing. Also, examine your gear, pets and children as well, and it is recommended to shower soon after to reduce the risk of tick-borne illnesses. Good places to check include under the arms, around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, around the hair and between your legs.

It is also important to be aware of the different types of ticks and their potential to carry Lyme disease. Blacklegged deer ticks are the primary carrier. They are teardrop in shape with a reddish-orange abdomen and a solid-black dorsal shield. Males or nymphs can be dark brown to black in color. The lone star tick is a secondary carrier and is rounder in shape, with a single white spot in the center of the body. The male has a chestnut-brown color with no markings. The American dog tick is not a carrier and is oblong in shape, with white markings on the dorsal shield with a dark-brown abdomen. The male has white markings all over its body and the nymph is oblong and solid dark brown.

If you find a tick, there is no need to panic. Prompt removal of ticks greatly reduces the likelihood of disease transmission.

How to remove a tick: Use a fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick to cause the mouthpart to remain in the skin. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with alcohol or soap and water. Never crush a tick with your fingers. To kill it, put it in alcohol in a sealed container.

Not all ticks are infected. About 20 to 40 percent of deer tick nymphs are not able to transmit Lyme disease. If you have been bitten by a tick, symptoms to look for include fever, chills, aches and pains or a rash.

Though the deer tick is the primary carrier, all ticks can carry and transmit disease. For more information visit www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/. You can also visit the site to see a map of reported tick bites

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