Lyme Disease Prevention During Hunting Season

Protect yourself, and your pets from tick bites during hunting season. Hunting brings you in close contact with ticks and their habitat. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or they may be on the animals themselves. Taking the proper precautions will reduce your chances of being bitten.

While most tick-borne infections occur during the summer, ticks may still be active well into the fall, or even year-round during a mild winter. If you develop a fever, rash, headaches, or joint pain, in the weeks following outdoor activity, see your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease can help prevent the long term health problems that can sometimes be associated with the illness.

Before the Hunt

  • Treat gear and clothing with permethrin. Products containing permethrin kill ticks and mosquitoes. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. The CDC recommends using insect repellant for outdoor activity. The advantage of using permethrin for hunting gear is that it remains protective through several washings. If you don’t use permethrin, make sure to use DEET containing insect repellent.
  • Treat dogs for ticks. Dogs are highly susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne disease. Regularly treat dogs with medications that kill ticks using products recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Tuck your pants into your boots or socks and tuck your shirt into your pants to prevent ticks from crawling inside clothing.

During the Hunt

  • When possible, walk in the center of trails and paths to avoid brushing up against ticks.
  • Ticks may drop off recently killed animals and may be in quick search for a new host, which may include people. Pay particular attention to ticks during the transportation or dressing of animals.
  • Animals can carry diseases which may affect people, including brucellosis, tularemia and rabies. Consider wearing gloves when dressing or butchering game and washing hands thoroughly afterwards.

After the Hunt

  • Shower immediately after returning from the outdoors. Showering may help remove unattached ticks.
  • Perform a full body check to look for ticks. Use a mirror, or have someone help you with hard-to-see areas.
  • Check dogs for ticks after returning from tick habitats. The most common locations for ticks on dogs include the ears, arm pits, groin and between the toes.
  • Remove any attached ticks from people or pets immediately. To remove a tick grasp it with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pull it straight out. Do not twist or jerk.

Watching for Symptoms

Watch for rash or flu-like symptoms in people and pets in the weeks following tick exposure, even if you don’t remember being bitten by a tick. Be sure to mention to your doctor any history of tick bites or outdoor activities where you may have been exposed to ticks.

Helpful Resources

For more information on ticks and Lyme disease visit the Center for Disease Control's website.