Tick exposure can occur year-round but is most active during warmer months (April-September).  They feed on the blood of mammals, including people, cats, dogs, deer, etc.  They do not jump or fly.  They attach to people and animals that come in direct contact with them.  Two species of ticks are common in Massachusetts- the Deer Tick and the Dog Tick.  Ticks can bite you and spread Lyme, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.  



  • Be aware of places to expect ticks. Ticks are most likely found in damp, shady, brushy, wooded, or grassy areas (especially in tall grass), including your backyard.

  • Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass when out walking.

  • Avoid direct contact with Ticks.

  • Dress appropriately: Wear light-colored socks, pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, and tuck everything in (pants into socks, shirt into pants). 

  • Use insect repellent such as DEET.



  • Check your clothing for ticks. Any ticks found should be removed. After you come indoors, tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium-temperature water will not kill ticks.

  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets and later attach to a person.

  • Shower when returning inside. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks, and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

  • Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Make sure to check your children and pets also. Check these parts of the body for ticks:




If you discover an embedded tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin’s surface as possible and pull straight out with steady, even pressure. Make sure all of the ticks are removed. If you wish to have it tested for Lyme, immediately place the tick in a sealable plastic bag.

Cleanse the bite area with rubbing alcohol and wash your hands with soap and water. Note the date and location on your body where the tick was discovered, and call your doctor to determine the next steps.


  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin.

  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and water.

  4. Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.


Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and, rarely, Borrelia mayonii. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected ticks.

Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. A common “bullseye” rash is shown below:

Erythema Migrans Demo Photo



  • Contact your doctor, nurse, or clinic for questions about your health.

  • For questions about diseases spread by ticks, contact the MDPH at (617) 983-6800 or online on the MDPH Tickborne Diseases website. You may also contact your local Board of Health (listed in the telephone directory under “Government”).

  • Health effects of pesticides, MDPH, Bureau of Climate and Environmental Health at (617) 624-5757