Tips to prevent ticks from taking over your camping trip

Author's note: The following press release is geared toward tick prevention for kids heading off to summer camp, but I think it very easily applies to RVing and camping, too.

This summer as thousands of children across the U.S. leave for camp, the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives, and promoting advocacy to find a cure for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, is calling on parents to take proper precautions to protect their little ones from tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. This is especially important as studies have shown the highest reported incidence of Lyme disease occurs among children ages five to fourteen years old.

Deer ticks are active all year round, but their peak season of activity begins in May and continues through September throughout the United States. In order to feed, these small bugs (no bigger than a poppy seed) seek a host, including mice, birds, squirrels, deer, and unfortunately, children. Deer ticks thrive in humid environments and can be found virtually anywhere their hosts live from woodlands, lawns and playing fields, to tree stumps and picnic tables - areas commonly found at outdoor summer camps.

"Deer ticks are cesspools of disease, and they put your children at risk of contracting Lyme disease and many other potentially debilitating diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, bartonella, tularemia and mycoplasma," explains Bob Oley, TBDA Public Health Consultant. "These microscopic bugs pose an enormous threat to our children, who are especially vulnerable during the summer months. It is imperative to educate ourselves about tick-borne diseases, and take the necessary precautions to protect our children from them."

Before sending children to summer camp, TBDA recommends that parents take the following steps to protect children from ticks and tick-borne diseases:
  • Ask questions. Ask the summer camp your child is attending if they have a tick management program in place to protect campers. Camps should also notify parents immediately if an embedded tick is found on one of their children, as prompt medical treatment may be advisable.
  • Pack accordingly. Purchase tick repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Send your children with light colored clothing that will make it easier to spot ticks.
  • Protect the clothing.Children are only as safe as their clothing. All outdoor garments (t-shirts, pants, sweat shirts, shorts, socks) should be sprayed with permethrin. Shoe wear should be sprayed as well. This is one of the easiest things to do, and it has big prevention payoffs. Parents can treat clothing (good for 6 washings) or purchase pre-treated clothing (good for 70 washings) with the proprietary Insect Shield label from suppliers such as: REI, LLBean, ExOfficio, Orvis, etc.
  • Keep the outdoors, outdoors. If your children attend a day camp, keep their outside clothes outside your home, as ticks can be on clothing from outdoor activities. When your children come home at the end of the camp day, put their clothes in a separate hamper in the mud room or garage. As soon as you can, put their clothes in the clothes dryer on high heat for 20 to 30 minutes. The dry heat will effectively kill any ticks that may be on them.
  • Educate your children. Children may not be able to identify a tick, but they can learn how to protect themselves. Educate them about the areas they as campers should try to avoid, the tick repellent clothes they should wear, and how to properly use tick repellent on exposed skin.Teach children how to conduct body checks for ticks after outside activities and at night before they go to bed. If they are under the age of ten, discuss tick prevention with a camp counselor and make sure those in charge are aware of these precautions.  
Click here to read more of TBDA Public Health Consultant Bob Oley's tips for protecting your children from tick-borne diseases this summer.

To learn more about the threat of tick-borne diseases and what you can do to help build awareness about the health crisis posed by Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, visit

About the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) 
The Tick-Borne Disease Alliance is dedicated to raising awareness, supporting initiatives and promoting advocacy to find a cure for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme. As part of its efforts, TBDA is embarking on a quest to develop a reliable diagnostic tool as a first step toward eradicating the diseases. Working with others in the tick-borne disease community nationwide, TBDA seeks to raise public awareness through education and create a unified voice for advocacy regarding the current epidemic in order to make a real difference. More information about TBDA, Lyme and tick-borne diseases, and prevention and protection can be found at