TAKING ACTION: Tick prevention is key this summer

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. --  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects lyme disease to hit an all time high over the next few months, and doctors locally said they are seeing a growing number of patients with ticks this summer.

WHNT News 19 took action to bring you some prevention methods so you can protect yourself and your family, and still enjoy the rest of summer.

Dr. Stephanie Gafford is a staff physician at American Family Care. She said due to the increased temperature in the Tennessee Valley, they're seeing more and more tick activity this summer.

"You just have to be careful, it's not a bad idea that when you're taking a shower or getting cleaned up for the day that you check for ticks," she said.

Dr. Gafford said it's important to remember you can get a tick just from walking in the backyard, or even from your dog that ran through the woods and is back inside.

"Make sure that you wear an insect repellant that has deet to repel those ticks when you're out and about. Making sure that you wear long sleeves and long pants," Dr. Gafford explained.

Also, throwing your clothes in the dryer will kill the ticks, and showers can help prevent them from attaching. She said sometimes you don't even know you've gotten a tick bite.

"Any unexplained fever, chills, headache, unexplained rashes, joint pain, muscle aches, that sort of thing you'd want to get checked out," said Dr. Gafford.

She said the best way to remove a tick is with tweezers, getting as close to its attachment to the skin as possible.

"You don't want to squish the tick as we say, because you don't want to release the toxins in the tick into the skin," said Dr. Gafford.

And once you do remove it, it's important to take precautions afterward as well.

"Prepping the skin with alcohol afterwards, and then saving tick if possible on an index card under some tape. Making sure you write down where the tick was removed, what time the tick was removed," explained Dr. Gafford.

This helps give your physician an idea what to look for, and how to treat any tick borne diseases you might have contracted.