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Getting to know… Ticks

Ticks are a threat in the United States.

There are 82 species in the United States which are known to cause 10 major diseases. The TickEncounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island is a good resource for all-things-tick.

Ticks Spread Disease.

Tick borne diseases include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia and Tickborne Relapsing Fever. Tick-transmitted infections are more common now with increases in deer populations and spreading tick populations. Visit the CDC website for more information.

Deer Ticks Spread Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease is spread to humans through the bite of an infected Deer Tick. Other ticks, such as the American Dog or the Lonestar, do not spread Lyme. The American Lyme Disease Foundation has an excellent website for more information about this disease.

Lyme Disease is a Growing Problem.

Each year 30,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported to the Center for Disease Control but the CDC does not believe this number is accurate. Based on a complementary study, the CDC believe that 300,000 people contract Lyme Disease in the United States each year. The geographic distribution of Lyme disease is available on the CDC website.

Ticks attach to hosts.

Ticks are parasitic insects, hoping to find a host. They rest on grass and shrubs waiting for someone to brush past so they can latch on and crawl up your clothes and skin. They do not fly.

Check yourself for ticks.

Finding and removing ticks before they infect you is a great way to prevent disease transmission. Diseases are generally transmitted after a reactivation period, Lyme Disease generally takes about 24 hours to move into the tick’s saliva. Once you remove the tick, save it in a vial of alcohol. Tick identification aids in disease diagnosis.

Ticks prefer certain areas of your body.

Ticks look for a moist, dark zone with thinner skin. On most animals, they prefer the head, neck and ears. On humans, they may be found in creases such as armpits or the back of your knee.

Ticks are active year-round.

Freezing temperatures do not kill ticks and they are active even in the winter, with the exception of days when the ground is frozen or snow-covered.

Ticks don’t wash off.

Ticks are parasites that attach to you with a sucking mouthpart. Tweezers are recommended for removal. Get as close to the skin as possible, removing the tick at its head. Old-school solutions like matches aren’t recommended and you can’t wash a tick away. More information about tick removal.

DEET repels ticks.

DEET may be applied directly to skin while Permethrin may be used on your clothes. Always follow the product instructions.

Control Ticks in the yard.

An estimated ¾ of Lyme disease cases are related to ticks picked up from activities around your home. Regularly remove leaf litter, tall grasses and brush around your home. Avoid constructing play areas around shrubs, bushes and vegetation. Place a physical barrier, such as wood chips or gravel, between your lawn and wooded areas.

Have regular yard treatments.

The CDC recommends that you consider using a chemical control agent in your yard to reduce the number of ticks.

Treat your pets.

Use tick control products to prevent family pets from transporting ticks indoors. Products such as collars, shampoos and medications should be used regularly and according to package instructions.

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