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 Tick Policy  
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For All Parents, Caregivers, Teens, and Staff


PREVENTION: The best prevention of tick-borne diseases is TIMELY TICK REMOVAL. Finding and removing all ticks takes time, scrutiny, and consistency! At Sassafras we regularly spray all fields, camps and paths with a natural tick repellant. This consistent practice has really helped to reduce the amount of ticks.

Protective clothing is important in the woods against ticks and poison ivy too. Wear long pants and tuck clothing in (pants in socks, T-shirt in pants), wear a hat or bandana, and tie up or braid long hair. Upon returning home, leave “woodsy” clothes outside or put them in a dryer for 20 minutes. .

Repellant is helpful, but no guarantee against ticks. All participants and staff should apply tick repellant before coming to camp. At Sassafras, we only allow natural repellants, and toxins are not permitted on the land. 

Timely Action: The sooner you remove a tick the better. Ideally, you want to remove a tick before it bites. Below is our recommended tick-check routine.

During Programs:  We conduct intermittent tick checks during program hours within our group,  pairing up participants to check each other's clothing, shoes, and hairline. At the end of each day, staff will remind participants to do a full-body tick-check. 

Removal: If your child has a tick that is attached during program hours, staff will remove the tick and sterilize bite area. When a tick is removed from a participant, our staff notifies the parents by the end of the program day. Note that if a tick is found attached towards the end of the program day, staff will ask the parents to remove it.

Back at Home: Intermittent tick checks during the program are not enough. Everyone still needs to do a full-body tick check at home. If you want to learn more about ticks and the various tick-borne illnesses please visit the Martha’s Vineyard Board of Health websites.


  • Intermittent Tick-checks & Tick Spotting: While outdoors, check yourself and others periodically for ticks, on clothing, shoes, exposed skin, and hair

  • Full Body Tick Check: Perform a full-body tick check at least once a day. Check as soon as possible, after exposure.

  • “Skinspection”: A thorough and detailed inspection of every piece of skin is called for. Use glasses if you have them, or a magnifying glass as ticks can be extremely small, even as small as a period. Scan and examine small dots and spots, look especially well in dark places, creases, skin folds, in between fingers and toes, in belly buttons, under underwear, private areas, behind ears, in ears, and along the neck and hairline. 

  • “Look before you itch”: This is an important habit to develop because you do not want to scratch the tick off, but remove it with tweezers.

Removal: Remove ticks while alive and do not suffocate, burn or kill ticks with vaseline, a lighter, or the likes. Grab the tick with pointed tweezers, as close to the skin as possible (behind the head), and pull out in the direction it went in. Clean the bite area and tweezers with alcohol right away. 

Bite-areas: Take extra notice of areas where you recently had a tick bite and monitor healing progress and coloration. Growing red rashes, especially a bulls-eye rash indicate disease transmission, and timely action is required. See a doctor asap. Note that not everyone develops a rash, in the event of disease transmission. Bite areas can remain red and extremely itchy for days, which is normal for some people and does not necessarily indicate disease transmission.

Antibiotics/Prophylaxis: If a tick has been "in" for more than 24 hours, you need to talk to your doctor. In most cases, antibiotics are prescribed for a minimum of 21 days. Some off-island doctors do not have accurate information on tick-borne diseases. For children approximately 10 years and over, and adults, there is another option. If a tick has been “in” for more than 24hours, you can take a prophylactic dose within 72 hrs. of contracting the tick. A prophylactic dose consists of a one-time 200mg dose of Doxycycline. Do not take on an empty stomach.

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