{See examples below of a press release and public service announcement}
  • Decide who will be responsible for speaking to the media from your agency.
  • Review educational material on tickborne disease. {Need some materials? Visit the MDPH website at www.mass.gov/dph.}
  • Review tickborne disease surveillance numbers for your area. {Need information on the number of reported tickborne diseases reported in your region or county? Call the MDPH Office of Integrated Surveillance and Informatics Services at 617-983-6801.}
  • Make a list of your key messages. They should be short and concise. Examples of messages you might want to include:
    • Deer ticks are found throughout Massachusetts and when they bite they can spread the germs that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis. Ticks can be found in grassy or wooded areas, even in your own backyard.
  • The highest risk of being bitten by a deer tick occurs throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons. However, adults can also be out searching for a host any time winter temperatures are above freezing.
    • Prevention begins with you!
      • Use a repellent with DEET or permethrin before going out into an area likely to have ticks.
      • Check yourself, your children, and pets for ticks after being outdoors in an area likely to have ticks.
    • If you develop a rash, headache, or flu-like symptoms after being bitten by a tick, talk to your physician as soon as possible.
  • Hold your press conference in an easily accessible location. To increase attendance, you may want to link it with another event, such as a health fair.
  • Timing is also important. Ask your local media when their deadlines are and time your event accordingly.
  • Have visual aids.
    • Show pictures of what ticks look like or areas where they are likely to be.
    • Demonstrate how to do a tick check on a volunteer.
      Woman performing a tick check on an individual.
      Doreen Rae, public health nurse from the Ludlow Board of Health, is illustrating how to perform a tick check on Ted Wysocki, Chairman of the Wales Board of Health, at a successful press conference in Springfield in May 2002. Helen Caulton-Harris, (shown on the right), Director of the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, facilitated the event.
  • When interviewed, talk about what you know. If you are unsure about a question, refer them to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at 617-983-6800. Remember, always be polite and direct.



Sample Press Release about an Upcoming Press Conference

Use your own agency's letterhead. The release should be sent to your local media outlets. You should also send it to your neighboring Boards of Health in case they get questions. You may want to work with your neighboring cities or towns to do a joint press release.

To: All Local Media Outlets
From: _________ Board of Health
Re: Upcoming Press Conference on Diseases Spread by Ticks
Date: May 1, 2009

Lyme disease is the most commonly reported tickborne disease in Massachusetts. In 2008, almost 8,000 cases were reported in Massachusetts. The incidence of Lyme disease in ______ County in _____ was ___ cases per 100,000 residents. {To maintain confidentiality, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) Surveillance Program does not release the number of cases by city or town to the general public unless the population of the city or town exceeds 50,000. If your city or town has a smaller population, you could release the number of cases from your county or the number of combined cases from the cities and towns in your area.} The diseases spread by deer ticks, Lyme disease, babesiosis and anaplasmosis, can become serious if not recognized and treated early.

Due to the increase in tickborne diseases, including Lyme disease, the ______ Board of Health has scheduled a press conference on _____ from _______ at ____________________. Speakers at the conference will include ___________.

Topics that will be covered by our speakers include:

  • How to recognize the symptoms of tickborne disease.
  • Where and when ticks are likely to be found, what they look like, and how to properly check yourself for ticks.
  • How to protect yourself and your family from ticks.
  • How homeowners can make their yards less attractive to ticks.

Sample Public Service Announcement (PSA)

{This could be broadcast on the radio or placed as an ad in your local newspaper.}

~60 seconds

Ticks are tiny bugs most likely found in brushy, wooded, or grassy areas. They may even be in your own backyard! Deer ticks can bite you and spread diseases like Lyme disease. Prevention begins with you, so remember, when you are outside in an area likely to have ticks:

  • Use a repellent with DEET or permethrin according to the instructions given on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Permethrin products are intended for use on items such as clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear, and should not be applied to skin.
  • Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks after coming inside. Pay particular attention to areas between the toes, back of the knees, groin, armpits, neck, along the hairline, and behind the ears.
  • If you find a tick attached to your skin, don't panic. Use a pair of fine point tweezers to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out with steady pressure.
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles after a tick bite.

For further information on diseases spread by ticks such as Lyme disease, contact the _________ Board of Health at ____________.

~30 seconds

Ticks are tiny bugs that can bite you and spread diseases like Lyme disease. Prevention begins with you, so remember:

  • Check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after being in brushy, wooded, or grassy areas.
  • Remove an attached tick with a pair of tweezers as soon as possible.
  • Talk to your doctor if you develop a rash where you were bitten or experience symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, or sore and aching muscles after a tick bite.

For more information on Lyme disease, contact the ________ Board of Health at ____.

May 2009


This information is provided by Epidemiology Program within the Department of Public Health.