There are a variety of ticks endemic in New Jersey. Ticks can spread a variety of bacteria which may cause disease in humans.
Probably the most common type of tickborne disease in New Jersey, Lyme Disease is spread by the deer tick. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium may be tranmitted. Signs and symptoms of Lyme disease include an expanding, "bull's eye" rash and flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue and joint aches. Lyme disease can be treated with oral antibiotics once diagnosed.
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, ticks are most active in warmer months of April-September. There are several steps you can take to avoid getting bitten by a tick:
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
Finding and Removing Ticks
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Pay close attention to areas under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in hair.
- Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and gear.
- Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
- To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. Thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
For more information on ticks and tickborne diseases, please see the Centers for Disease Control website.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.