We're hitting the peak of tick season and state health officials want people to be aware of it before it's too late.
It's a concern largely dependent on the weather, but as we enter the warmer months, the tick season is well underway. That has state health officials like Dr. Catherine Brown on guard.
"We're at a point in Massachusetts, every tick season is a bad tick season. There just aren't enough tick predators," she said.
In New England, there are two peaks for tick season. The first begins now and lasts through August. The other peak is in the fall.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Norfolk County leads the state this year with the most patients already diagnosed with the tick-borne disease at 19, followed by Worcester at 14 and Middlesex County at 12.
"We can actually track that now so we're able to pinpoint with a great deal of precision when tick season actually starts in Mass.," said Brown.
Right now, deer ticks are the most common and symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, or aching muscles, especially after a tick bite.
The state's health department is trying to get the word out now so people know what to do if bitten by a tick.
According to Brown, the first step is to arm yourself with a tick repellant that has an EPA registered active ingredient. Look for the EPA label on the can.
Next, perform a daily tick check, from head to toe.
For added protection, shower, and throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat. The heat will kill the ticks.
If you do find a tick and remove it right away, Brown says you’re still probably okay.
"If a tick manages to bypass a repellent but you find it promptly and remove it, then you're very unlikely to be exposed to a disease," said Brown.
And people across the Commonwealth are already finding and removing ticks from their pets, their children and themselves.
"I've only had to pull one off my children that was embedded," said Deb Barrett, of Hyde Park. "On my dog more, but on my kids, we’ve been lucky."
"From head to toe, I check down by the ankles and go all the way up and just a quick scan through his hair and his ears, just little places you wouldn’t even think to look," said Erin Cashen of Boston. "Every time he comes at night to make sure because they’re just everywhere."
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