Monday, May 21, 2018

Tick Tock - Time to be on the Lookout for Ticks

The long-awaited warmer weather has arrived and, like many, I’m eager to spend more time outdoors with my family. However, there is one thing I’m not excited about—ticks.  While ticks are very small, they can spread many different diseases, potentially causing big problems for our health. Locally, Lyme disease (carried by the deer or black-legged tick) is the most common illness transmitted by ticks.  Young deer ticks, called nymphs, are brown and the size of a poppy seed—less than 2mm!  Unless you’re looking for them, they can be easy to miss.  This is why we do daily tick checks in our family – and why I would recommend for you to add a quick tick check to your daily routine.  Ticks have been in the news frequently over the past couple of years as tick populations continue to grow, yet many myths about ticks still exist.  Here’s what you need to know to keep you and your loved ones safe:
·         Deer ticks are most commonly found outdoors in shady, moist areas at ground level.  They also live in lawns and gardens.  Just because you haven’t been outside doesn’t mean you’re safe from ticks—pets can carry ticks into your home.
·         Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp.
·         Not all ticks are infected.  Your risk of disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 24-36 hours.
·         To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick at the surface of your skin and pull the tick straight up and out.
·         Keep an eye on the bite site for the next 30 days and know what signs and symptoms you should watch for.
·         Protect yourself from future tick bites by using an EPA-registered insect repellent and wearing the correct clothing. You can also take steps to reduce the number of ticks around your home.

Jennifer Trudeau, RN
Principal Public Health Educator