Following Governor Wes Moore’s proclamation of May as Tickborne Disease Awareness Month in Maryland, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) recently launched a Tickborne Disease awareness campaign urging Marylanders to take simple precautions to prevent illness caused by infected ticks.
The warmer spring weather means increased risk of tickborne disease transmission. In an effort to reduce the spread of disease, the tickborne disease awareness campaign will provide Marylanders with weekly tips on what to do before, during, and after outdoor activities to prevent tick exposure and recognize the symptoms of tick-transmitted diseases.
“We want Marylanders to enjoy the natural beauty found in our great state,” said Maryland Department of Health Secretary Dr. Laura Hererra Scott. “But we want them to safeguard their health while they do it, by being mindful of ticks and the diseases they spread.”
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tickborne disease in Maryland. In 2021, more than 900 cases of Lyme disease were reported in the state. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a rash (which might look like a bull’s eye), fever, headache, joint pain and fatigue. If left untreated, the disease may spread to the joints and nervous system. Contact your healthcare provider or local health department if any of these symptoms develop after a known tick bite or after spending time in a tick habitat. Most cases can be cured with antibiotics.
“We are working to educate the public and reduce the threat from tickborne illnesses,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Nilesh Kalyanaraman. “Through awareness, our goal is to reduce people’s exposure to ticks, prevent tick bites, and to prevent Marylanders from acquiring tickborne illnesses.”
The best way to avoid tickborne diseases is to avoid ticks and their habitat. Ticks prefer humid environments and can be found outdoors in leaf litter, weeds, tall grasses, shrubs, and woods.
To prevent tick exposure and bites:
• Use EPA approved insect repellents such as DEET, picaridin, or IR3535
• Wear light colored clothing to help spot ticks more easily
• Wear long pants and sleeves and tuck your pants into your socks or boots
• Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin
• Consider purchasing permethrin treated clothing and gear
• Stick to marked paths when hiking and avoid brushy areas and tall grass
• Shower as soon as possible after returning indoors • Dry your clothes on high for 10 minutes once you get home to kill any ticks on clothing
• Perform a tick check on yourself, children, and pets after being outside in a tick habitat
• Talk to your veterinarian about ways to protect your pets
While Lyme disease is the most prevalent tickborne disease in Maryland, other illnesses that can be transmitted by ticks include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain and other spotted fever diseases, and tularemia.
To learn more about tickborne diseases and ways to protect your family and pets, go to the MDH website at https://health.maryland.gov/phpa/OIDEOR/CZVBD/Pages/tickborne_dz.aspx.