The agency reminds Americans that ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, plus shares important tips on preventing bites this summer.

By Zee Krstic
May 31, 2019
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Mother and Daughter Walking in a Forest
Credit: Frank and Helena / Getty Images

As ticks become even more prevalent in multiple regions across the United States, health professionals are doing everything they can to stall the growing-rate of tick-borne diseases. That includes using social media to spread the word about these tiny pests; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reshared a warning that illustrates just how small ticks can be by comparing them to poppy seeds. It's a hair-raising comparison to make, but the CDC's photo is accompanied by a lighthearted challenge asking users to differentiate ticks from actual poppy seeds on muffins. Many Americans chimed in, expressing how surprised (and disgusted) they were to see the resemblance.

If this warning looks familiar to you, it's because the CDC shared it around this time last year as well. The decision to publish it again may have something to do with the fact that new reports show that the number of tick-borne diseases is increasing at record rates, and the geographic range of ticks also has rapidly expanded. In April, the CDC updated their notes about the Lyme disease and acknowledged that other common tick-borne diseases like ehrlichiosis and STARI continue to grow in prevalence. Those living near heavily-wooded areas have more than just Lyme disease to worry about these days, the agency says.

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With their viral photo, the CDC is also sharing their best tips to avoiding tick exposure this summer. Experts say that bug repellents that contain at least 20 percent DEET should be sufficient to repel ticks; the Environmental Protection Agency has resources online to help you find safe bug spray for the whole family. Completing tick checks after heading inside is essential: the CDC recommends checking your hairline and scalp, behind your ears, knees, on your waistline, within the thigh and groin region, and in your navel.

Other quick ways to prevent ticks from entering your home is to throw your clothes into a dryer, on high, for at least 10 minutes after coming in from the outdoors. Any bugs or insects within folds will die from the heat exposure. And just like you check yourself, you'll also need to check your pets, since the CDC says they're most likely to bring ticks into your home. There are forms of flea and tick repellant for both dogs and cats that your veterinarian can recommend, but checking their paws, legs, and other low-lying fur may help you catch ticks before they can spread.

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