Stay Wood Tick Free

Learn to prevent wood tick bites, how to remove wood ticks, and keep your family free of tick diseases like Lyme's and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Getting out into the great outdoors can be a humbling, adventuresome experience. Unfortunately, it only takes one wood tick to give you the heebie geebies and send you clamoring back home for room service and a hot bath. Thanks to modern technology, some common sense, and new studies, there are more effective ways to enjoy your time outdoors and remain wood tick-free.

WOOD TICKS

Wood ticks are dark colored arachnids found in wooded areas, brush, and fields. Common to North America, ticks feed on the blood of animals and humans. Most ticks are relatively harmless, though several types are carriers of dreaded diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

PREVENTION

There are many ways to prevent a tick bite and limit your exposure to ticks in general. Follow these guidelines for a safe outdoor experience:

WALK DOWN THE CENTER

When hiking in heavily wooded areas, stay on paths and walk down the middle of trails to avoid rubbing against bushes and picking up waiting ticks.

CHANGE YOUR CLOTHING

Wear light colored clothing, which will make it easier to spot a tick. Wear shirts and sweatshirts with tight colors and cuffs.

INSPECT YOURSELF

When spending extended periods outdoors, check yourself often for ticks. Many ticks can be captured before biting. Ticks tend to travel toward areas of warmth, such as the groin area, scalp, in skin folds, and under arm pits.

DON'T FORGET THE PETS

Check outdoor dogs and cats for ticks, too. It is not uncommon for a tick to crawl off an animal and on to you. Dogs and cats should wear flea and ticket collars during heavy tick seasons.

USE AN INSECT REPELLENT

Insect repellents, especially those containing 100% DEET, are the most effective means of protecting yourself against tick bites. Apply liberally before dressing and reapply after exposure to water.

TRIM THE YARD

Trim back large bushes near homes, which are popular areas for all types of ticks from Spring-Autumn.

HOW TO REMOVE A TICK

The goal of tick removal is to get rid of the live insect in one piece. While the squeamish at heart may be tempted to give the little bugger a quick yank and be done with it, leaving parts of the tick embedded in your flesh will most likely cause an infection. With patience in mind, follow these simple steps:

1. Wash your hands.

2. Sterilize a pair of tweezers. This can be done with rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab or by running a lit match beneath them.

3. Grab the tick as close to your skin's surface as possible and pull slowly. Do not jerk! You want the tick to help you, by backing out as you're pulling. If the tick does not back out on its own, stop pulling, and add a few drops of rubbing alcohol, cooking oil, or petroleum jelly to the surface of the skin. The added moisture will begin to drown the tick, causing him to back out.



4. Wait. Within five to ten minutes, the tick should begin to loosen its hold.

5. Pull again. Using the tweezers again, gently pull the tick from your skin.

6. Examine the tick. Make sure you both remove the head and body of the tick. If you suspect the tick is a disease carrier, preserve the tick in a ziplock bag for examination by your physician.

7. Cleansing. Once the tick is out, wash the skin area with antibacterial soap or swab affected area with an antiseptic. Any itching, rash or irritation can be treated with hydrocortisone or antiseptic creams.

DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH WOOD TICKS

LYME DISEASE

Lyme disease is a serious inflammatory disorder caused by deer ticks. It can affect the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and joints. Deer ticks are smaller than those normally found and are very dark in color.

SYMPTOMS

Lyme disease symptoms present themselves in two stages. During the first stage those infected will notice a small, raised bump on the skin that grows with time and forms a clear area in its center. Often, several bumps will form around the clearing, giving the rash a target-looking appearance.

Later stages include:

Fatigue.

Lethargy.

Stiff muscles.

Headaches.

Stiff neck.

Backache.

Nausea.

Vomiting.

Sore throat.

Joint pain and red, warm joints.

Heart-rhythm disturbances.

TREATMENT

Early treatment is key to treating Lyme disease and preventing further complications. The skin rash caused by Lyme disease often clears on its own within 10 days of exposure and infection. Providing there are no additional tick bites, doctors can successfully manage and treat Lyme disease with antibiotics, cortisone drugs, and anti-infammatories over a 2-3 years period.

NOTE: Lyme Disease prevention vaccinations are now available in the US for those who spend great amounts of time outdoors. Contact your family physician for more information.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever occurs in persons who have been bitten by ticks infected with Rickettsia organisms. This disease is prevalent in 40 U.S. states.

SYMPTOMS

Most symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever occur 2-5 days after a tick bite. Symptoms include:

High fever.

Chills.

Headache.

Nausea.

Vomiting.

Muscle aches or extreme muscle weakness.

Severe backache.

Red skin rash which begins on feet and hands and spreads.

Mental confusion.

Coma.

TREATMENT

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be fatal, unless treated promptly and appropriately. If you suspect you're suffering Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or exhibit similar symptoms, see your doctor immediately. This disease is curable with antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and bed rest.

ENCEPHALITIS

Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is common in Central Europe. Caused by the same tick that spreads Lyme Disease, TBA is a serious condition which requires immediate medical attention.

SYMPTOMS

Severe headache.

Stiff neck.

Vomiting.

High fever.

Swelling or rash at site of bite.

TREATMENT

Treatment for TBE depends largely on how advanced it has become. TBE is fatal in 10% of all cases. TBE is treated with large doses of antibiotics and is preventable. TBE vaccinations are not yet licensed in the US, but can be given to those residing in Europe.

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