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outdoor-worker-in-grassy-areaTicks are tiny bugs most likely found in shady, damp, brushy, wooded or grassy areas. If you work outdoors in any of these types of environments, you could be at risk of tick bites and the illnesses they can cause.

The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses.

  1. Know the difference between DEET and permethrin. DEET should be used on exposed skin, while permethrin should be used to treat clothing. When purchasing DEET, you will notice there are different concentration levels depending on the brand/product. The concentration level determines how often you should reapply it. Formulas of 30%-34% DEET can potentially protect you for 11-12 hours. Read the packaging carefully and always follow the directions on the label.
  1. If you do not have a uniform, wear light-colored clothing and try to use long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If possible, tuck your pants into your socks. This keeps ticks off your skin and makes it easier to find one on your clothing.
  1. Make a thorough tick check a part of your end-of-day routine. The sooner you find a tick and remove it, the less chance it has to make you sick. Start from the top of your head and work your way down. Ticks often attach in parts of the body that are hard to see so use your fingers to feel for small bumps as well as looking for new “freckles” that may actually be a tick. Always check:
    • Inside and behind the ears
    • Along your hairline
    • Back of your neck
    • Armpits
    • Groin (where your legs join your body)
    • Legs
    • Behind your knees
    • Between your toes
  1. If you find a tick on your body, it is important to use the proper method to take it out. Grip the tick as close to your skin as possible with a pair of fine-point tweezers and pull straight out with steady pressure. Products like tick spoons or other notched tools can also be safely used. Do NOT use Vaseline, nail polish remover, a lit match or any other irritant to try to get rid of the tick.
  1. Once you remove the tick, put it in a see-through container and identify Black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks) are most likely to carry disease. If you find a black-legged tick that has been attached to you for more than 24 hours, contact your healthcare provider for advice.
  1. Always contact a medical professional as soon as possible if you notice any of the following symptoms:
    • A rash forms around the bite area
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Fatigue
    • Sore and aching muscles or joints
  1. If you are bitten while working, it is important that you tell your supervisor as soon as possible since the incident should be recorded in the field/work/activity log with the exact date of the bite.

Written By:


Health Communicator and Outreach Specialist in the Occupational Health Surveillance Program

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