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For Lyme Disease Awareness Month, DPH advises Delawareans on ways to stay safe from ticks

A cluster of lone-star tick larvae
Rachel Sawicki
Delaware Public Media
A cluster of lone-star tick larvae

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Delaware, and the Delaware Division of Public Health is reminding people to protect against ticks.

As the weather gets warmer, people spend more time outdoors and potentially come in contact with ticks.

Antonio Alvarado is an epidemiologist for DPH, and he provides some tips on how best to avoid Lyme disease.

"The most important thing to do is to avoid getting bit by blacklegged or deer ticks which are established in all three counties here, and to avoid those tick bites you can avoid wooded or brushy areas with sort of high grass and leaf litter,” said Alvarado. “We always recommend sticking to the center of trails if you do go to hike or something like that."

DPH also advises performing tick checks on yourself, children and pets after being outdoors, shower within two hours of coming indoors and tumble dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes.

At home, keep grass short, remove leaf litter and invasive plants and keep your yard free of trash and debris.

Alvarado notes Delaware is a hot spot for Lyme disease.

"Delaware is a high incidence Lyme disease state which basically means we see some of the highest cases here along with some other northeastern states, and pretty much since 2020 we've usually seen about 300 or more cases each year. We did see that dip during 2021 during the pandemic, but last year it did go back up to 300," said Alvarado.

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected deer tick that must remain attached for 24 or more hours to spread the bacteria.

If you develop an expanding rash with a diameter of more than two inches or flu-like symptoms over a 30-day period following a tick bite, contact your health care provider immediately.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.