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You can't buy good health but you can buy good health information. Check out these newly released Special Health Reports from Harvard Medical School:

How to protect yourself against ticks, from Harvard Women's Health Watch

With summer comes another task to add to your busy schedule: picking ticks off your kids, your pets, and yourself. Most bugs are just an annoyance, but some, like ticks, can make you sick. Ticks—in particular, the deer tick—are best known for their ability to carry and transmit the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease. But they can also spread other bacterial and viral diseases, including babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, and Colorado tick fever, reports the June 2009 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

Although most tick bites won’t transmit a disease, some can, and there is no vaccine to protect you from most of these diseases. If you spend time outdoors, it’s almost impossible to avoid ticks completely. But you can take steps to lower your risk of getting bitten or of becoming ill. Here are some measures you can take to avoid infection:

Protect yourself: Avoid wooded, bushy, or grassy areas whenever possible. When venturing into them, wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Use an insect repellent that contains DEET.

Check yourself: After you've been out in tick territory, undress and examine your skin, using a mirror for hard-to-see places.

Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to your skin as possible, and pull upward slowly and steadily. Then wash your skin and hands with soap and warm water. Never crush or squeeze an attached tick.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch notes that if you have been exposed to ticks and you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, see your clinician—even if the symptoms go away on their own. A tick-borne infection usually causes no lasting harm if it’s recognized and treated early.

Read the full-length article: "Recognizing and avoiding tick-borne illness"

Also in this issue of the Harvard Women's Health Watch

  • Treating female pattern hair loss
  • Recognizing and avoiding tick-borne illness
  • In the journals: Scientists discover how shift work may threaten health
  • In the journals: Triple-negative breast cancer rate is triply high in black women
  • By the way, doctor: What can I do about strep B vaginitis?

More Harvard Health News »

About Harvard Health Publications

Harvard Health Publications publishes four monthly newsletters--Harvard Health Letter, Harvard Women's Health Watch, Harvard Men's Health Watch, and Harvard Heart Letter--as well as more than 50 special health reports and books drawing on the expertise of the 8,000 faculty physicians at Harvard Medical School and its world-famous affiliated hospitals.