Spring has sprung, it’s tick hatching time and 2011-2012’s mild winter means populations will be higher than usual. Tick bites transmit Lyme disease, which is prevalent throughout the U.S. and world. One of the best defenses against Lyme is knowing how to prevent tick bites.

Preventing Tick Bites

* Protective clothing: Long sleeves and long pants, tucked into socks, will help keep ticks off. Light colors make them easily to spot.

* Repellents: DEET for skin and, for added protection, treat clothing with permethrin. Permethrin can be harmful to skin but it will stay on clothes for up to two weeks. Sprays marketed for mosquito protection are probably less effective against ticks.

* Tick checks: Check for ticks daily, especially if you’re hiking or doing other outdoor activities too. Check pets also,

* Landscape: Ticks like brush, leaves and tall grass, so keeping your yard neat will lessen their prevalence. Keeping deer out of the yard and laying down barriers of pebbles or wood chips between yards and shaded, wooded areas will keep ticks away.

According to the Massachusetts Lyme Disease Association, improper tick removal greatly increases the risk of tick borne infections. Aggravating a tick, such as squeezing or applying substances, may cause it to inject whatever organisms it has inside itself.

Proper tick removal

* DO NOT: burn, grasp, squeeze, twist or use substances on the tick.

* DO: Use tweezers, grasp the tick close to skin and pull straight out.

* Clean by using antiseptic on skin, disinfecting tweezers and washing hands thoroughly.

* Follow-up with a physician for possible diagnosis, testing, and treatment.

* If desired save tick for testing, preferably alive, in a zippered plastic bag or a closed container with a moist cotton ball.

According to the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society, less than half of all Lyme disease patients recall a tick bite or recognizing a rash. Because the bacteria is so vigorous, it can affect multiple systems of the body, meaning a vast array of symptoms.

From sore throats to joint swelling, back pain to ear aches, seizures, headaches, light sensitivity and diarrhea, moderate to severe symptoms clustering in specific organ systems or persistent, abnormal symptoms in an individual could be Lyme.