KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Summer camps are underway, and some families plan to do some exploring outside over the warm weeks ahead. One thing that can really ruin the fun: ticks.

East Tennessee is an attractive place to go hiking, trailing or exploring wooded areas. However, ticks can be found in brushy areas, grassy fields or yards.

Infected ticks spread bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make you sick. Lyme disease is a common tick-borne infection. Tick-borne illnesses can cause a fever, chills, fatigue and muscle and joint pain.

Robert Wilson, MD with Covenant Medical Group, Roane County Family Practice, shares on what you need to be aware of. 

“With tick bites, you can see Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis. You can see meat allergies that can develop from certain tick bites. There are people who develop anaphylaxis to beef, pork, lamb after tick bites, and that’s something we see fairly commonly in this area. We see a few cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) every year and that’s very dangerous,” said Willson.

“If you have a tick bite or the tick is engorged and you develop a rash, any type of a rash really, it can be little, tiny blood spots, it can be the typical Bullseye Lesion, and that can be some places separate from the tick bite,” he added. 

If you are spending time outdoors this summer, you have to protect yourself. The CDC recommends spraying your clothing and exposed skin with EPA-registered insect repellents. If you are unsure of what to use, try the EPA’s search tool to find the product that best suits your needs.

After a day outside, do a thorough check of your skin. The CDC outlines the following steps to make sure you’re not carrying any ticks with you:

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms
  • In and around the ears
  • Inside belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around the hair
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist