Tick season in Michigan: Tips to protect yourself

DETROIT – It's tick season in Michigan.

Ticks are common all over our state - and they can cause trouble for humans and animals.

Here's some helpful information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

Although ticks can cause multiple illnesses, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Michigan.  Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted by the blacklegged/deer tick. 

The blacklegged tick is well-established in Michigan’s western Upper and Lower Peninsulas.  However, the ticks are expanding into new areas across the Lower Peninsula.  In 2016, there were 221 human cases of Lyme disease reported, and approximately two out of three cases reported exposure in Michigan.

“With the expansion of blacklegged ticks into new areas in Michigan, the most important way to protect against Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites,” said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive of the MDHHS.  “If you find a tick attached to your body, promptly remove it.  Monitor your health and if you experience fever, rash, muscle or joint aches, or other symptoms, consult with your medical provider.”

People can protect themselves against Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases by using the following tips to prevent tick bites:

  • Avoiding tick-infested areas.
  • Walk in the center of trails to avoid contact with overgrown grass, brush, and leaf litter at trail edges.
  • Protect your pets too! Dogs and cats can come into contact with ticks outdoors and bring them into the home, so using tick prevention products on pets is also recommended.
  • Using insect repellent.
  • Apply repellent containing DEET (20-30 percent) or Picaridin on exposed skin.
  • Treat clothes (especially pants, socks, and shoes) with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact or buy clothes that are pre-treated. Do not use permethrin directly on skin. 
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any repellents.
  • Performing daily tick checks.
  • Always check for ticks on yourself and your animals after being outdoors, even in your own yard.
  • Inspect all body surfaces carefully, and remove attached ticks with tweezers.
  • How to remove a tick: Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin.  Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.
  • Bathing or showering.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Washing clothing in hot water, and drying on high heat will kill ticks in clothing, and help to prevent ticks from coming indoors.

For more information about Lyme disease, visit www.cdc.gov/lyme  or www.michigan.gov/lyme

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.