An Ounce of Prevention!

Because diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is still evolving, prevention is critical. When engaging in outdoor activities, wear light-colored clothing so that crawling ticks can be seen. Tuck pant legs into boots or socks so that ticks do not have access to skin and may more easily be seen. Use insect repellents with DEET or Permethrin (cream 5%) in high-risk areas. Use tick and flea preventatives on your pets. Inspect yourself, your children, and your pets frequently for ticks, and remove any attached ticks promptly using proper removal procedures.

Avoid areas with high grass. When hiking, stay on the trails. Do not sit on stone walls. Wear shoes, not sandals. According to the Lyme Disease Association, "Ticks are most likely to be in woods, where woods meet lawn, where lawn meets fields, tall brush/grass, under leaves, under ground cover (low growing vegetation), near stone walls or wood piles, shady areas, around bird feeders, and in outside pet areas."

A tick removal kit with instructions is available from the American Red Cross. For instructions to collect and submit for testing live ticks that were attached to a human host, call the Texas Department of State Health Services at (512) 458-7111 or follow the instructions on our Test a Tick Page.

The following instructions on how to remove a tick safely come from the Texas Department of State Health Services: When handling or removing ticks, use forceps or tweezers. If you use your hands, wear disposable gloves or shield your fingers with a paper towel or other suitable material. When removing ticks from a person, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. DO NOT twist or jerk the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off, leaving them embedded in the skin.