Enjoy the warm summer months, not tick bites!

As Memorial Day approaches many of us are planning to get outdoors and enjoy summer months.  There isn’t much we don’t love about being outdoors and enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle. However, if there is one negative that we all have to deal with, let’s agree on the dreaded and disgusting tick. With the return of warm weather comes the risk of tick bites. Unfortunately, the threat of acquiring diseases can be very real and very dangerous.

Most dangers associated with the woods or water can be seen and avoided accordingly. Not the tick. You can spray down with your favorite repellent, and you can wear tight fitting cover-up style clothing, but none of that is a guarantee.  Since they cannot fly or jump, many types of ticks climb up to the tips of grasses and wait. When they detect a passing host, they simply climb aboard. Merely casting a shadow on some ticks can give away your presence. Ticks can also detect animals by their breath, odor, heat, moisture or vibrations caused by their movement.

FAQ

There are two main types of ticks — wood and deer.

Wood ticks are about the size of a watermelon seed. Deer ticks are smaller, somewhere between the size of a poppy seed and an apple seed.

Deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease, but only do so in less than two percent of cases. Wood ticks can transmit another infection, Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ticks spread diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, by biting a person or animal infected with a disease, then passing it along to their next host through the tick’s saliva. In fact, you won’t even feel the bite of a tick due to a chemical found in their saliva that acts as an anesthesia.  Ticks need to feed on blood to make it through each phase of life, from egg to larva to nymph to adult. If one of these meals contains a blood-borne pathogen (or disease-causing microbe), the tick can pass it along when it feeds on a new host in their next life stage.

There are steps you can take to make sure you prevent ticks from getting stuck on you.

Prevent

– Wear long-sleeve shirts and pants.  Tuck the pants into your socks to prevent ticks from climbing inside the pant leg.

– Use an insect repellent that includes 30 percent DEET (follow safety tips for using DEET on adults and children)

– Permethrin applications also work to repel tickets for up to six weeks on clothes, tents and sleeping bags but you must use caution and follow the product’s direction for use and safety.

Check

Do a “tick check” on everyone as they come in the house and catch any tick that has started to dig in.  Ears, belly buttons, behind the knees, between the legs, arm pits and hair are usually spots they will try to hide.

Remove

If you find a tick, use tweezers to remove.  Grasp the tick close to where it’s attached and pull straight without twisting or crushing the tick.  Be sure to wash the bitten area and hands after you dispose of the tick.

If in fact you have given that little bugger a free ride out of the woods, don’t panic. According to WebMD it takes an adult tick up to an hour before it starts actively feeding. In most cases, ticks can be brushed off with a firm swiping motion. However, if it has started to feed and inserted its head into your skin it will need to be removed. Again…this is simple. No need to call 911 or administer last rites. (maybe to the tick!)  If you can still see a small piece of the tick inside your skin, don’t worry. Your body will heal just fine with that small piece intact. You are likely to do more damage to your skin by attempting to dig it out.

Get out and enjoy the summer.  Don’t let the possibilities of ticks deter you from participating in the outdoor activities you love to do!