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Ticks: What to know and how to stay safe

One arachnid to be aware of is ticks. The reason for concern is due to their ability to spread disease. Ticks feed on blood similar to mosquitoes. Humans are one of many meal options ticks enjoy. They can pick up and share a variety of pathogens and bacteria as they feast. Lyme disease is one of the most well-known. Most people know it for its bullseye rash.

Quick, skillful removal of an attached tick is key. The CDC recommends using a clean, fine-tipped tweezer to grasp the tick close to the skin. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Try not to twist or jerk as the head and mouth can break off in the skin. Remove as much as possible if this happens then leave the site alone to heal. After removal, clean the bite area and your hands well. Wrap the tick tightly in tape and throw it away or flush it down the toilet for safe disposal. Consider saving the tick in a sealed bag or container to test. Contact your doctor and provide the tick (if possible) should symptoms occur.

Enjoy the outdoors and remain tick free. Ticks hang out in wooded, grassy areas and on brush. Sticking to groomed trails and avoiding brush piles and long grass can help you steer clear. Smart “tick fashion” includes tucking pant legs into socks and wearing a long-sleeve shirt and hat. Selecting light colored clothes can make spotting them easier. Treat clothes with products such as .5% permethrin, DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Shower within two hours of returning indoors and tumble dry clothes for about 10 minutes.

Areas on the body to check:

  • Under arms
  • In and around ears
  • Inside the belly button
  • Back of the knees
  • In and around hair
  • The groin
  • Where clothes are snug

Be aware of the tick varieties in your area so you know what to look for. Watch out for ticks on your pets too. Enjoy the great outdoors and be safe!