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It’s tick season. This will keep you safe while enjoying the great outdoors

It’s tick time and right across Ohio, the little bloodsuckers position themselves on the tops of tall grass and shrubs along well-used paths, waiting for an unsuspecting host to come by.

Unfortunately, this behavior (known as searching) coincides with the time of year we hit the trails as well.

“Ticks and humans are active around the same time,” said Brent Rollins, healthy home manager at Summit County Public Health (SCPH). “In the winter, like most people, ticks are dormant because it is cold outside. And what happened, when it gets warm, the ticks become active, and we… become active too.”

Experts say this year is no worse than normal for the little bugs, and if you take preventative measures, they’re no reason to avoid the outdoors.

According to the SCPH, people exploring hiking trails and wooded areas should take preventive measures against ticks, including:

  • Avoid wooded areas with tall grass and scrub
  • Use insect repellent with at least 30% DEET
  • Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks
  • Wear light-colored clothing as you can see ticks better
  • Check for ticks regularly, including places ticks like to hide: your hair, under your arms, behind your knees, and in your belly button
  • Check your children and pets after they’ve been in areas where ticks might live

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible to avoid further complications, experts say.

dr Sean McNeeley, medical director of the University Hospital Urgent Care Network, recommends using a credit card or something with a flat surface to repel ticks.

“In theory, it’s better than tweezers because you actually pry it off instead of squeezing the tick’s body,” McNeeley said. “It’s the ideal way. But again, the most important thing is to take it off.”

In a pinch, tweezers will also work.

Hold the tick around your head and pull it straight out, Rollins said.

“Don’t twist or anything — because if you grab the abdomen and pull, the head could snap off and you might actually have to go to a medical treatment facility to have the head removed.”

If you’ve been bitten, clean the area around the bite and keep an eye out for the next week or so for symptoms of Lyme disease, including fever, circular rashes, and muscle or joint pain, the health department said. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

Not all tick species carry Lyme disease. Ohio is home to several different types of ticks, including deer ticks, also known as blackleg ticks, which can transmit the disease.

Experts say that while being bitten by a tick can be unsettling, a bite doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get Lyme disease.

“First you have to have a deer tick. The deer tick must have Lyme disease. The deer tick has to get on you, bite you and transfer it to you, which can take up to 24 hours,” said Dr. McNeeley. “So it has to be the right tick, it has to be infected, it has to get to you and infect you. And then you have to go untreated, and then you can get Lyme disease.”

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