Submitted by Ryan Wille, B.S.
Community Health Educator
Ticks are small spider like animals that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. They live in the fur and feathers of many birds and animals. Tick bites occur most often during the early spring to late summer months in areas with high wild animal populations.
Most ticks do not carry diseases and most tick bites do not cause serious health problems. Your risk of developing disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within 36 hours. However, some tick-borne diseases include:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Relapsing Fever
- Colorado Tick Fever
Effective prevention and treatment of tick bites is the best way to avoid these diseases. There are several preventative steps that you can take to avoid tick bites. These include:
- Apply an insect repellent. Use the repellents according to the directions on the label, especially when applying repellent to children.
- Cover as much of your skin as possible when working or playing in grassy or wooded areas. Wear hats, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. If you think you may have a tick on your clothing, put it in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to kill the tick.
- Wear gloves when you handle animals or work in the woods.
- Take steps to control ticks on your property. Clearing leaves, brush, tall grasses, woodpiles, and stone fences from around your house and the edges of your yard or garden. Remove plants that attract deer and use barriers to keep deer, and the deer ticks they may carry, out of your yard. Also, check your pets for ticks after they have been outside.
- Stay away from tick-infested areas.
If you have been bitten by a tick, the sooner the tick is removed, the less likely they are to spread disease.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick. If you don’t have tweezers, put on gloves or cover hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands. Grab the tick as close to its mouth as possible, the body will be above the skin. Don’t grab the tick around its bloated belly because you might push infected fluid from the tick into your body. Pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of your skin.
- Don’t try to burn the tick while it is attached to your skin.
- Put the tick in a sealed container and save it in the freezer for later identification if necessary.
- Wash the tick bite area with warm water and soap. Wash your hands after removing the tick.
Watch for these symptoms after a tick bite and if any occur, contact your healthcare provider:
- Flu-like symptoms develop
- A rash or sore develops
- Symptoms of a skin infection develop
- Symptoms become more severe or more frequent
For more information, attend a free “Tick” Town Hall Meeting on May 14 at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown at 6:30 p.m. Learn how to keep yourself, your family, and your pets disease-free this season from a health care panel including Dr. Thomas N. Mather Ph.D., the world’s leading tick and Lyme Disease expert from the University of Rhode Island. To attend, call Littauer at 773-5533 or e-mail email@example.com.