It’s that time of year again….Tick Season!
For a variety of reasons (one of them being, believe it or not, a poor year for acorns!) experts are expecting a prolific tick population this Summer, and an uptick (pun intended) in the number of tick-related illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease.
As always, prevention is key!
- Use an insect repellant with DEET, permethrin or picaridin (do not use on children under2)
- Wear light colored clothing to make any ‘hitchhikers’ more visible
- Tuck pants legs into socks or boots when walking/hiking in high grass or woods. Long sleeves, pants, hats recommended, tucking long hair up under hat.
- Avoid tick infested areas; Stay to the center of the path when walking in woods, avoiding shrubs and tall grass when possible. Recently cleared home sites that were wooded are also likely to be infested for a while.
- Check kids and pets daily for ticks and remove (more on safe removal below). Most tick- borne bacterial infection transmission require the tick to be attached 4-6 hours and some, like Lyme disease require 36 hrs or more
- Use flea and tick control measures for your pets, for their sake and your own
If you find a tick that is embedded, careful removal is required. Do not use some popular remedies, such as touching the tick with a hot match or coating with petroleum jelly as these may cause the tick to burrow deeper and release more saliva increasing the risk of disease. To safely remove:
- Using tweezers grasp the tick firmly at its head, near the skin
- Pull firmly and steadily straight out without rocking or twisting until the tick lets go.
- Put the tick in a jar or zip-lock bag to save if you want to have it tested, along with a blade of grass to keep it alive (Clemson University ext. will ID it for you free of charge, other send-off labs charge for the service Tickcheck.com) Keep in mind most tick bites will not result in disease.
- Otherwise, just dispose of the tick by flushing down the toilet or drowning in alcohol or soapy water. Do not crush the tick, as you are then further exposed to the tick’s saliva and blood.
- Swab the bite area with alcohol or soap and water and wash your hands
- Note the date on the calendar for reference if any problems arise. Notify your doctor immediately for:
- A rash of any kind, especially a red-ringed “bulls-eye” rash or red dots on wrists and ankles
- The bite area looks infected (painful, red, warm, swollen or draining)
- Symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea /vomiting, lack of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, stiff neck or back, muscle or joint pain (Flu-like symptoms).