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Ticks are found in grassy, brushy areas where they wait for a host to pass by.  They are especially prevalent along paths used by animals.  Ticks are not choosy about their host and often get onto a person’s leg.  They crawl upward on the body, looking for a place to attach.  Their populations are greater than in the spring and summer following a mild winter.

Ticks have a 4-stage life cycle:  egg, larvae, nymph, and adult.  The nymph and adult forms are able to attach to humans and other animals and possibly transmit diseases.

A tick bite is not painful and may go unnoticed.  In most cases, the tick simply bites, draws blood for its nourishment, and drops off.  If the tick happens to be infected, the infectious agent is transmitted during the feeding process.  It is important to realize the majority of ticks are not infected.

How to Protect Yourself

  • Avoid tick-infested areas.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be seen.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and tuck pants into socks.
  • Apply insect repellants containing DEET to clothing and exposed skin.  Read guidelines on the can for application on children.
  • Check your body thoroughly for ticks.

The number of ticks in endemic residential areas may be reduced by removing leaf litter, brush and woodpiles around houses and at the edges of yards, and by clearing trees and brush to admit more sunlight and reduce the amount of suitable habitat for deer, rodents, and ticks.  Tick populations have also been effectively suppressed through the application of pesticides to residential properties.

How to Remove a Tick

  1. Use tweezers.  Grasp the tick by the head as close as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure.  DO NOT TWIST, JERK OR SQUEEZE THE TICK.
  2. Thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water and disinfect the bite.  Wash your hands.
  3. Never remove a tick with fingernail polish, alcohol or hot matches.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Helpful Information:

Fairfax County Health Department Tick Prevention Video

Fairfax County Health Department (Virginia)