Ways to avoid tick bites when exploring Washington

[Press Release by Washington Department of Health]

As the weather gets warmer, more people are heading out to enjoy our state’s many parks and hiking trails. Remember to be on the lookout for those tiny parasites that may be trying to go along for the ride. Tick season is in full swing in western Washington, and it’s kicking into high gear in the eastern part of the state as well.

While Washington normally has relatively few cases of tick-borne disease (such as Lyme disease), each year a few cases are diagnosed and reported to DOH.

When you’re working, camping, or walking in a tick habitat — wooded, brushy, or grassy places — take a few simple precautions to help reduce your chance of being bitten.

  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck your pants into socks or boots, and your shirt into pants. This helps keep ticks outside your clothing so you can easily spot and remove them.
  • Stay on hiking trails and out of brushy, wooded and tall-grassy areas.
  • Wear light-colored, tightly woven clothing. The light color will allow you to see the dark tick more easily; the tight weave makes it harder for the tick to reach your skin and become attached.
  • Use tick repellent when necessary, and carefully follow instructions. Products containing DEET or permethrin are very effective.
  • Check yourself and your children and pets thoroughly for ticks. Carefully inspect areas around the head, neck, ears, underarms, inner thighs and back of knees. Look for what may appear to be a new freckle or a piece of dirt.
  • Shower or bathe (preferably within two hours of being in tick habitat) to wash off and more easily find any ticks that were missed, and possibly attached to you.

If you discover an attached tick:

  • Promptly and carefully remove the tick using fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid removing the tick with bare hands. Don’t twist or jerk the tick — this could cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, potentially causing infection. If the mouthparts do break off, remove them with tweezers.
  • After you remove the tick, disinfect the skin area and wash your hands.
  • Note the date that you found the tick attached to you, just in case you become ill.
  • If you develop a fever, rash, or flu-like illness within a month, let your doctor know that you were bitten by a tick.

If you do happen to find a tick, please send it to DOH for an ongoing project about what types of ticks live in different parts of Washington.

Visit the DOH website to learn more about the different ticks in Washington state, how to submit a tick to DOH, and ways to enjoy the beautiful scenery in our state while also protecting you, your family, and pets from tick bites.

More information

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Check the state’s COVID-19 website for up-to-date and reliable info at coronavirus.wa.gov.

For more information about the vaccine, visit CovidVaccineWA.org. Check the vaccine locator tool to find out if it’s your turn for the vaccine and see a list of places where you can get it. The COVID-19 vaccine is provided at no cost to you.

Answers to your questions or concerns about COVID-19 in Washington state at our website. You can also contact the Department of Health call center at 1–800–525–0127 and press # from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday — Sunday and observed state holidays. Language assistance is available.