How to protect yourself during tick season

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- As tick activity surges due to the unseasonably warm winter, base officials are urging individuals to take precautions against tickborne diseases.

The Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences has reported an increase in emergency visits where patients are diagnosed with tickborne diseases in 2023.

This rise is particularly notable in eastern states, primarily New England and the mid-Atlantic, as well as in the northern midwestern states and the West Coast.

"Black-legged deer ticks and dog ticks found throughout Massachusetts can spread bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause human diseases like Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis," said Capt. Bali Summerpreet, Public Health Element chief. "Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms, making early detection and prevention crucial."

Symptoms of tickborne diseases include skin rash, fatigue, chills and fever, headache, and muscle and joint pain. Prompt removal of ticks is essential to prevent disease transmission.

"In general, ticks need to be attached for more than 36 hours before they can transmit a tickborne disease," said Summerpreet. "Adult ticks most commonly bite during the fall, but the early surge in activity means we need to be vigilant year-round."

To prevent tick bites, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends the following:

  • Insect repellents containing DEET
  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus
  • Para-menthane-diol
  • 2-undecanone

Public Health officials also suggest the following:

  • Wearing clothing treated with permethrin
  • Checking for ticks daily
  • Showering after spending time outdoors are also effective measures
  • Drying clothes on high heat for 10 minutes after coming indoors can kill ticks

"Grasp the tick firmly and as close to the skin as possible," said Summerpreet. "With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. Cleanse the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water."

Dogs are particularly susceptible to tick bites and diseases.

Summerpreet emphasized the importance of using tick preventive products on pets and consulting with a veterinarian about Lyme disease vaccination and the best tick prevention products.

"Check your pets for ticks daily and remove any found immediately," he said. "Tickborne diseases can severely affect your pets’ health, so preventive measures are critical."

Ticks need high humidity to survive, and reducing tick habitats can help control their population. Removing leaf litter, clearing tall grass and brush, and creating dry barriers with wood chips or gravel around play areas and lawns can reduce tick numbers.

Hanscom AFB residents are encouraged to bring ticks removed from humans or pets to the Public Health office in a sealed clear plastic bag for testing. Results typically take 3-4 weeks and positive results are documented in the member’s medical records.

For any questions or concerns, contact the Hanscom Public Health Office via email at, or by phone at 781-225-6295.

"Staying informed and taking preventive measures can significantly reduce the risk of tickborne diseases," said Summerpreet. "Let's work together to keep our community safe.