Use heat to beat the ticks this summer

Health Reporter Valerie Lego explains how to easily remove ticks and what to look for if you think you've been bitten.

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Now that summer is here, many of us are enjoying the outdoors more.

We've been reporting lately on the large increase in ticks in Michigan this year -- thanks to our warm February weather. There's also been an increase in the number of tics carrying Lyme disease.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates the Lyme disease cases could actually be 10 times higher than reported. It's in part because Lyme disease often feels like the flu for the first few weeks.

Here are some tricks from the CDC for de-ticking yourself:

  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for a minim of six minutes. If you need to wash them first, use hot water. It must be over 130 degrees.
  • Take a shower within two hours of coming in from the outdoors. It's not only easier to spot them, but if you can stand a hot shower you'll most likely rinse them off.
  • Use a product that has at least 20 percent deet in it. You can even spray your clothes first for added protection, especially if it's a hot sweaty day.

Ticks, even the ones carrying Lyme disease, need to be attached for about 36 hours before transmitting disease.

It's best to keep an eye on the area for that telltale bull's eye at the bite site, or for any flu like symptoms. If those occur, call your doctor.

If you get antibiotics early, most will recover completely in about a week.

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