Lyme Disease Prevention

Fact Sheet for Parents
The State of New Jersey continues to have one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the country. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer (black legged) tick. Common habitats for the deer tick are leaf litter in wooded areas, grassy areas along wooded edges and low bushes and shrubs. Deer ticks are not commonly found on athletic fields, cut lawns or agricultural fields. The majority of Lyme disease cases are caused by tick bites acquired around the home. Children may be at particular risk because of the amount of time they spend playing outdoors and the failure to recognize a tick bite.
Lyme tick on skin
Safety Tips
To help reduce this risk of tick exposure, remind your family of these tick safety tips.

Before Going Out
  • Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks.
  • Use a tick repellent as directed.
  • Wear closed shoes/sneakers rather than open sandals.
  • Wear light-colored, tightly woven clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
Products should contain DEET (for clothing OR skin) or Permethrin (for clothing ONLY). The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that DEET not be used on children less than 2 months of age. The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10% to over 30%. The efficacy of DEET plateaus at a concentration of 30%, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. The major difference in the efficacy of products relates to their duration of action. Products with concentrations around 10% are effective for periods of approximately 2 hours. As the concentration of DEET increases, the duration of activity increases; for example, a concentration of about 24% has been shown to provide an average of 5 hours of protection. A prudent approach would be to select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors. It is generally agreed that DEET should not be applied more than once a day.

While Outside
  • Avoid low bushes and leafy brush.
  • Periodically check clothing and skin for ticks and remove.
  • Stay in the center of trails.
Upon Return
Check clothing, skin, and hair for ticks (take special note of your child’s navel, underarm, groin area and behind the ears). If a tick is found, remove it carefully with tweezers. If it was attached, note spot of attachment, mark calendar, and save tick in a jar for later identification. Should symptoms such as an expanding bullseye rash, flu-like symptoms or painful joints develop, contact your physician.

Additional Precautions
  • Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing.
  • Avoid spraying in enclosed areas.
  • Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child.
  • Do not use DEET near food.
  • Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth.
  • Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin. Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors; wash treated clothing.
Use These Steps for Proper Tick Removal
  1. Using tweezers, grasp tick as close to skin as possible using tweezers.
  2. Pull gently with a steady, backward pressure. Be patient.
  3. Wash area with soap, water, and topical antiseptic.
Remember: Incorrect removal of an attached tick can increase your risk for Lyme disease. Never burn, smother or crush an attached tick.

Don’t Forget: It generally takes at least 36 hours after attachment for a deer tick to infect its host with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. So remember to check ticks daily.

For more information, please contact:
  • Cape May County Department of Health
    Division of Community Health Planning/Education
    Phone: 609-465-1225
  • The Governor’s Lyme Disease Advisory Council