Maryland has declared May as Tick-borne Disease Awareness Month and Governor O’Malley is asking residents to ‘Get Ticked Off.’ The public information campaign encourages people to take steps to prevent tick bites.

Ticks, which latch onto skin, sometimes transmit bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Though symptoms vary by person, Lyme disease often causes a rash, headache, fever and chills. It can also later lead to arthritis as well as neurological and cardiac disorders.

[pullquote]Ticks are most common during summer months but can be seen much sooner.[/pullquote]

“Ticks can be active as soon as the ground thaws, long before summer,” notes Dr. Wayne Meyer, internal medicine physician and president of the medical staff at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.

In order to avoid ticks, Dr. Meyer recommends long-sleeved clothing, especially in outdoor areas that may have high tick amounts. This is often grassy and wooded areas.

He says that the most important thing to remember is that it is uncommon for a tick to transmit Lyme disease if it has been on the skin for less than 72 hours. Therefore, it is vital to check yourself for ticks so you can remove them as quickly as possible. When removing, it is best to use tweezers and gently tug at the tick

Listen to Dr. Meyer’s full interview with WTOP Radio for more tips on how to protect yourself.