If you spend time outdoors or have pets that go outdoors, you need to beware of ticks, especially this year as they are predicting a bad year for ticks. Ticks are small bloodsucking parasites. Many species transmit diseases to animals and people. Some of the diseases you can get from a tick bite are Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Some ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see. Ticks may get on you if you walk through areas where they live, such as tall grass, leaf litter or shrubs. Because of the mild weather we had this past winter, the tick population is predicted to be very large this year.
To protect yourself from ticks and tick-borne infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoiding places with thick vegetation, high grass and leaf litter.
- Walking in the center of trails when hiking.
- Using repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
- Using products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear — such as boots, pants, socks and tents — or wearing clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
- Bathing or showering as soon as possible after potential exposure, to wash off ticks before they bite.
- Treating dogs with products that kill and/or repel ticks.
- Examining gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats and day packs.
- Drying clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended.
- If the clothes can’t be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.
If you happen to find a tick on yourself or a loved one, DON’T PANIC! Use the following steps to remove the tick as soon as possible;
- Use tweezers with a good grasping end to remove the tick as close to the skin as possible. Do not use your bare hands. Wear gloves or use a tissue to protect your hands from the tick.
- Grabbing the tick near the skin, pull upward with a slow, steady motion. Avoid sudden jerking or twisting motions.
- Place the tick in a sealable plastic bag and put it in the freezer. Do not crush or destroy the tick, and avoid touching the tick or any fluid that comes from it, including blood. You want to keep it for identification in case the bitten person becomes sick. Make a note of the date you removed the tick.
- Thoroughly disinfect the site of the tick bite, and wash your hands thoroughly.
- If the bitten person shows signs of having the flu or a rash in the area around the bite, contact your healthcare provider.
We see a lot of wood ticks and deer ticks in our area. Wood ticks are twice the size of deer ticks and have white marks near their head. Deer ticks are very small, are orange/brown and have a black spot near their head.
We wait all year for nice weather like this! Ticks don’t mean you won’t get to enjoy the nice weather; you just have to follow some simple safety precautions. Have a great summer everyone!
Pharmacy Clinical Program Mgr