Follow these tips to stay free of ticks this fall

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As summer draws to a close, the Rockland County Health Department reminds everyone to be aware of the risks of Lyme disease in the fall months. If you take part in outdoor fall activities such as apple picking, hiking, raking leaves, hunting, fishing or outdoor sports, protect yourself from tick bites.

Dr. Joan Facelle, Rockland County commissioner of health, urges everyone to reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease by following these three simple steps:

1. Conduct a daily tick check of yourself, your children and your pets.

• Before coming inside, check your clothing for loose ticks and brush them off.

• Examine all areas of the body for ticks. This is easily done while showering.

• Remove any attached ticks as soon as possible. Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick's mouth parts, as close to the skin as possible, and firmly pull upward until the tick releases its hold.

2. When outdoors, dress to protect.

• Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants.

• Tuck shirts into pants and pant legs into socks.

• Wear light-colored clothing.

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• Tie long hair back into an elastic band or wear a hat.

• Wear closed shoes rather than sandals.

3. Consider the use of an insect repellent.

• If you decide to use an insect repellent, carefully follow the directions on the repellent label.

Be tick-free when you are in the outdoors! Walk in the center of paths so you don't brush up against bushes and other plants. Stay out of leaf litter. Don't sit on fallen trees, rock walls or directly on the grass or ground.

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If you have removed a tick that was attached to your skin, look for symptoms of Lyme disease, which can start three to 30 days after a bite from an infected tick. Symptoms can include an expanding rash, tiredness, headache, pain or stiffness of muscles or joints, neck stiffness, slight fever, and swollen glands. Should any symptoms occur, contact your doctor.

For more information about Lyme disease call the Rockland County Health Department at 845-364-2501 or visit www.rocklandgov.com/health.

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