Califonia Bountiful

Stay healthy: Avoid tick bites

Sept./Oct. 2010 California Country magazine

Last season's plentiful rain created the perfect environment for ticks, those freckle-sized, spider-like creatures that thrive in moist, wooded or grassy areas.

Tick bites are most common during early spring to late summer in areas with a lot of foliage and wildlife. Summer is nearly over, but it doesn't mean you're no longer at risk. Ticks carry diseases, like Lyme disease, that can make you seriously ill. Signs of Lyme infection begin with a circular rash around the site of the tick bite followed by fatigue, fever, headache, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes.

The good news is that most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Even better, it's simple to prevent tick bites and to reduce your risk of tick-borne disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( offers these effective tips:

  • Know where to find ticks. Depending on where you live, simple things like gardening or clearing leaves from the yard may expose you to ticks. And when you're hiking and camping, you're in prime tick territory. Walk in the center of trails to avoid being bitten.
  • Use a repellent with DEET or permethrin and wear long sleeves, long pants and socks. As with any insect repellent, always follow product instructions when applying.
  • Wear light-colored clothing and tuck your pant legs into your socks.
  • Check your clothing and pets for ticks. It's possible to carry ticks into the house on your clothing or via your pets. Check your pets daily and safely remove any ticks you find. If you discover ticks on your clothes, running them through your dryer on high heat will kill the ticks.

Gardening, camping, hiking or just playing outdoors are all terrific activities to stay healthy. Don't let tick bites ruin your fun!

If you have a question or need treatment but want to understand all your options, Health Net members can use Decision Power online or call a Health Coach at 800-893-5597. Making the most of your health is what Decision Power is all about, whether it's a simple question, help with a health goal or living with an illness.

For information about the California Farm Bureau Members' Health Insurance Plan through Health Net Life Insurance Co., call 800-213-6716, e-mail, or visit the Health Net website at Click on "See Our Plans," then "California," then "Plans for Individuals & Families."

Sam Cole is a regional vice president for Health Net of California Inc.

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