Preventing Tickborne Disease - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Preventing Tickborne Disease

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Preventing exposure to ticks requires diligence.

On this page:
Be aware of ticks
Use insect repellents
Check for ticks
Consider some basic landscaping techniques
More from other websites

Be aware of ticks

  • Blacklegged ticks (deer ticks) are found in wooded or brushy areas while American dog ticks (wood ticks) are found in grassy, more open habitat and woods.
    • American dog ticks are found throughout Minnesota while blacklegged ticks have been found throughout most of the wooded parts of the state.
  • You should know whether the areas where you live, work, or play have blacklegged ticks.
  • While ticks may be active whenever it is warm outside (i.e., above freezing with little to no snow cover), be aware of when ticks are most active here in Minnesota so you can be extra diligent during these months:
    • Blacklegged tick adults are most active in the spring and fall
    • Blacklegged tick nymphs (immature ticks) are most active from mid-May through mid-July
    • American dog tick adults are most active in the spring and early summer

Use tick repellent

  • Choose an EPA-registered product so you know it is safe and effective against tick bites.
  • Products containing permethrin, which are used on clothing and gear, are especially recommended for people who spend a lot of time in wooded areas.
    • Do not use permethrin on your skin.
  • Standard DEET-based products are another option.
    • Use a product containing no more than 30 percent DEET for adults.
    • Concentrations up to 30 percent DEET are also safe for children (according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics). Do not use DEET for infants under two months of age.
    • Products containing DEET or permethrin will also protect you from mosquito bites and mosquitoborne diseases.
  • Follow the manufacturer's directions for all repellent applications.
  • This 2-minute video shows you how to choose and use a safe and effective bug spray that will protect you from ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry.

Check for ticks

Check frequently for ticks – at least once a day.

  • Ticks must remain attached for one to two days before they can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria.
  • Some research suggests that anaplasmosis may be transmitted more quickly.
  • Bathe or shower after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be crawling on or attached to you.
  • Search your entire body closely, especially hard-to-see areas (e.g. behind knees, groin area, and arm pits).
  • Ticks may look like a speck of dirt or freckle on skin so use a parent or a mirror to help you.

If you find a tick on yourself, remove the tick as soon as possible.

  • Prompt tick removal is important in order to lower your risk of tickborne disease transmission.
  • Use a pair of tweezers or your fingers to grasp the tick by the head, close to the skin.
    • Pull the tick outward slowly, gently, and steadily
    • Clean the area with soap and water.
  • Avoid folk remedies like Vaseline®, nail polish remover or burning matches - they are not a safe or effective way to remove ticks.

Watch this 1-minute video that shows you how to quickly remove a tick.

Talk to your veterinarian about safe and effective tick repellents for your pet.

  • Several different topical and oral products are available.
  • Carefully read and follow the product label.
  • A Lyme disease vaccine is available for dogs. However, the vaccine will not protect against other tickborne diseases and will not stop your dog from bringing ticks into the home.
  • Check your pets for ticks daily and remove any attached ticks right away.

Don't forget about ticks that may be on your clothing or gear.

  • Check gear and clothing before bringing indoors.
  • Tumble dry clothing and gear in a dryer on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill blacklegged ticks.
    • Ticks may survive wash cycles, especially if hot water isn't used.
    • If the clothes are damp or need to be washed first, additional dryer time may be needed: 90 minutes for low heat or 60 minutes for high heat.

Consider some basic landscaping techniques

If you live near the woods in an area with ticks:

  • Keep your lawn and trails mowed short.
  • Remove leaves and clear the brush around your house and at the edges of the yard.
  • Keep children's play-sets or swing-sets in a sunny and dry area of the yard.
  • Make a landscape barrier (such as a three-foot wide border of wood chips) between your lawn and the woods.

More Information

  • Ticks
    To better understand how you can best protect yourself from tick bites, learn more about tick identification, life cycle, and habitat.
  • Tickborne Disease Materials
    Downloadable and printable tick ID cards, brochures, and slide show (with all of our main talking points included in the notes section).
  • CDC: Ticks
    Information about ticks and how to avoid ticks on people, on pets, and in the yard, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Updated Friday, 15-Nov-2019 07:28:00 CST