Take measures to protect against ticks in the wild

(MCT) - The largest problem when hiking sometimes comes in the smallest package - ticks.

Ticks, a small insect that can carry a wide range of diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, typically infest vegetation along a trail. Always in the mood to bite, a tick usually attaches itself to a passing person when the individual brushes up against a plant, such as leaf litter or shrubs.

Fortunately, a few simple steps, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can offer hikers better protection when outdoors.

- Avoid tick-infested areas. Many local health departments, parks and cooperative extension services have information about the areas most infested with ticks. In a tick-infested area, walk in the center of the trails to avoid contact with vegetation.

- Wear light-colored clothing, which allows you to see more easily any ticks on your clothing. Tuck pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up inside. Some ticks can crawl down into shoes and are small enough to crawl through most socks.

- Use chemical repellent with DEET or permethrin. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing. When used in this manner, the repellent will be protective for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to the skin, but it only protects for a few hours. Parents should apply this product to children, avoiding the hands, eyes and mouth.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

© 2008, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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