Quick Tips for Avoiding Ticks

Dangers lurk around trails and in tall grasses on our mountains and hills.

There’s the usual suspects — rattlesnakes, mountain lions, poison oak — but another, less visible threat also exists. With their babies clocking in at the size of a poppy seed, ticks can be found year-round in Marin, and they are “vectors,” or disease transmitters, with about 1 in 50 carrying Lyme disease. Most Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially if the infection is diagnosed and treated early; however, up to 20 percent of people who get it report symptoms for months and years, even after treatment. It’s common for dogs to receive a Lyme vaccine, but their owners aren’t so lucky. A Lyme vaccine for humans is currently in the first phase of FDA testing after a previous vaccine was discontinued in 2002. Until this new one or another one is available, here are some tips for staying tick-free on your outings.

• Wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves and long pants in areas where ticks may live.
Shower and check for ticks after hikes for several days. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before Lyme is transmitted.
Apply repellent to your body and clothes containing permethrin or DEET.
Talk to your doctor if you develop a bull’s-eye-looking rash or experience fatigue, headache, fever and/or depression.