If spring has you shedding your shoes in order to run your bare feet through the grass, watch out. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), May, June and July are prime Lyme disease months. And while no one';s suggesting you barricade yourself indoors just when some of the year';s most inviting weather is upon us, there are certain precautions you should take to avoid contracting this illness, which can have serious, long-term effects.

As you may probably know, Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks, especially in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific coast. The most cases are reported in the following states: Connecticut , Delaware , Maine , Maryland , Massachusetts , Minnesota , New Hampshire , New York , New Jersey , Pennsylvania , and Wisconsin . Living in other areas doesn';t mean you're completely safe, but you do run a lower risk.

Since ticks love woodsy, bushy areas with high grass and lots of leaf coverage, it makes sense to stay out of these areas. If you must venture into the overgrowth or anywhere deer graze, wear long pants, socks, and sleeves for maximum coverage, and tuck your socks into your pants to prevent ticks from crawling inside. Some sources even recommend taping your pants to your leg to form a barrier. Don't forget to spray yourself with an insect repellent that contains 20 percent to 30 percent DEET. Or try Permethrin, an insect repellent and instant tick killer that you can buy at outdoor gear and hunting stores. It should not be applied directly to your skin, though.

Before going inside, check your clothing for ticks. Remove your clothing if you find any. Wash the clothing in hot water and dry on high heat for at least an hour; this will kill any remaining ticks. In the shower or bath, check every inch of your skin for ticks. You can remove ticks with tweezers, and don't worry if you find some—the chances of contracting Lyme disease is extremely small if the tick has been attached to you for less than 24 hours. To be on the safe side, watch yourself for signs of Lyme disease, which include the telltale circular "bullseye" rash (about one to two weeks after infection) and flu-like symptoms.