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If you spend time outdoors or have pets that go outdoors, you need to beware of ticks. Ticks are small, bloodsucking parasites. Some ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see. Ticks may get on you if you walk through areas where they live, such as tall grass, leaf litter or shrubs.

The ticks most often encountered in Kansas are the American dog tick, lone star tick and blacklegged tick (or deer tick). Most tick bites are painless and cause only minor signs and symptoms, but some ticks transmit bacteria that cause illnesses. In Kansas, ticks are prone to carry 4 diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and tularemia. The time it takes a tick to transmit the bacteria that cause these diseases can vary widely.

Symptoms of tickborne illness

Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you get a tick bite and develop the symptoms below within a few days to a few weeks, see your healthcare provider. The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses include:

  • Fever/chills – All tickborne diseases can cause fever. 
  • Aches and pains – Tickborne diseases can cause headache, fatigue and muscle aches. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain. 
  • Rash – Either at the bite site of the tick or spread to other parts of the body.

If you have questions or think someone has been bitten by a tick, call 1-800-222-1222.

Tick being held in a pair of tweezers.

Remove ticks with tweezers

If you find a tick attached to your skin, simply remove the tick as soon as possible. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers works very well.

Steps to remove a tick

  1. Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you cannot remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by:
    • Putting it in alcohol
    • Placing it in a sealed bag/container
    • Wrapping it tightly in tape
    • Flushing it down the toilet

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible, not waiting for it to detach.

Call the 24-Hour Poison Help Line for Additional Support:


Prevention tips

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months (April-September).

Before you go outdoors 

  • Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs. Wearing light-colored clothing will help you spot a tick on your clothing.
  • Use insect repellent that contains DEET, permethrin or picaridin. Always follow product instructions.
  • Know where to expect ticks. Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.

After you come indoors 

  • Check your clothing and gear for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing, gear and pets. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Wash and dry your clothes on high heat to kill any ticks. 
  • Check your body for ticks and shower soon after being outdoors. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it’s a good opportunity to do a tick check. Showering within 2 hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Check these parts for ticks:
    • Under the arms 
    • In and around the ears 
    • Inside belly button 
    • Back of the knees 
    • In and around the hair 
    • Between the legs 
    • Around the waist

If you have questions or think someone has been bitten by a tick, call 1800-222-1222.

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