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Vector Control

Mosquitoes spread disease! Learn how to prevent disease at home and when you travel from the CDC.  Click here! 

Aedes aegypti mosquito

Ticks

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.

Blacklegged (Ixodes scapularis) ticks at all life stages

Learn more about prevention resources for kids

Lyme Disease Stories

Helpful Links

HHS Special Webinars on Lyme and Tickborne Diseases

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Preventing Ticks in the Yard

Create a Tick-Safe Zone Through Landscaping

You can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape. Here are some simple landscaping techniques that can help reduce tick populations:

  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
  • Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
  • Refer to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's Tick Management Handbook [PDF – 8.53 MB] for a comprehensive guide to preventing ticks and their bites through landscaping.

Apply Pesticides Outdoors to Control Ticks

Use of acaricides (tick pesticides) can reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard.  However, you should not rely on spraying to reduce your risk of infection.

If you have concerns about applying acaricides:

  • Check with local health officials about the best time to apply acaricide in your area.
  • Identify rules and regulations related to pesticide application on residential properties (Environmental Protection Agency and your state determine the availability of pesticides).
  • Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home.

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Stop Ticks

Repellent, showers, and tick checks can stop ticks.

Reduce your chances of getting a tickborne disease by using repellents, checking for ticks, and showering after being outdoors. If you have a tick bite followed by a fever or rash, seek medical attention.

Gardening, camping, hiking, and playing outdoors – when enjoying these activities, don’t forget to take steps to prevent bites from ticks that share the outdoors. Ticks can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can cause serious illness.

See the Ticks site for more information about American dog tick (shown in photo) and other ticks found in the United States.

Some diseases that you can get from a tick bite include (listed alphabetically):

Other diseases that you can get from a tick in the United States include Colorado tick fever and Powassan virus infection .

Before You Go Outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals, so spending time outside camping, gardening, or hunting will bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
    • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Outdoor workers can find additional information at the NIOSH Tick-borne Diseases Safety and Health Topic .

After You Come Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors . Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, which even includes your back yard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

What to Do if You Find an Attached Tick

Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it by grasping with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out. For detailed information about tick removal, see the tick removal page .

Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever in the days and weeks following the bite, and see a health care provider if these develop. Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a health care provider.

Reduce Ticks in Your Yard

  • Modify your landscape to create Tick-Safe Zones [6.82 MB] . The Connecticut Tick Management Handbook provides valuable advice for preventing blacklegged ticks in the yard. Similar steps may also help reduce other types of ticks in and around the yard. Regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas, and keep play areas and playground equipment away from away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
  • Consider using a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks. A single springtime application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68–100%.
  • Discourage deer. Removing plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing backlegged ticks with them.

Prevent Ticks on Animals

Use tick control products to prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home. Tick collars, sprays, shampoos, oral medications, or “top spot” medications should be used regularly to protect your animals and your family from ticks. Consult your veterinarian and be sure to use these products according to the package instructions. For more information on animals and health, see Preventing Ticks on Your Pet .

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