As many of the recently vaccinated embrace activity outside the house for the first time in months, remember it is important to be on the lookout for the ticks that cause Lyme disease and other illness. Here are five ways to reduce risks, provided by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

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Educate yourself on ticks in Maine

Deer ticks/blacklegged ticks can cause several illnesses including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan virus. They are often brown or red with black legs and can be much larger when engorged. Common, but less dangerous, are dog and woodchuck ticks.

A full list of ticks, images and info about them are available at the UMaine extension site (see above).

Dress protectively

Wear light-colored clothing including long pants tucked into socks or boots; tuck in your shirt; avoid open-toed shoes or sandals in potential tick habitat.

Use repellents with permethrin to treat clothing, gear

Do not apply permethrin directly to skin. The use of repellents that contain 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing can effectively repel ticks for several hours.

Check for ticks

Unfortunately, any outdoor activity, even in any backyard, could expose you to black legged or deer ticks, which harbor pathogens that can cause illness. Be sure to thoroughly check yourself, your children and pets for ticks after outings.

Ticks are commonly found under the arms, behind the knees, between the legs, in and around the ears, the belly button and in hair, according to the University. Be on the lookout for tiny brown/black spots. Ticks can vary in size.

Remove ticks immediately and properly

UMaine advises removing an attached tick using tweezers or a tick removal spoon. “Do not use petroleum jelly, hot match, nail polish or other folk remedies to remove ticks. Those methods are not effective and may increase the risk of disease transmission.

"If you experience a rash, headaches, fever or flu-like symptoms after a recent tick bite, see a physician right away. To have a tick specimen identified or tested for pathogens, see 'Submit a Tick' [on the extension website].”