Generations ago, ticks where really nothing more than an annoyance – they would mostly glom onto your pet and you’d have to find a collar or tick killer to save your pet from having to scratch itself silly. Occasionally, a tick would jump onto our arm or leg, causing you to slap it away with little harm to you. That was then, but now there are new breeds of ticks that in addition to being gross and annoying actually carry diseases that can be of great harm to your loved ones and pets. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about ticks.
#1 Tick Born Diseases
For tick-borne diseases, a tick needs to be attached to your skin for more than 24 hours in order to transmit disease. This means that spending a few minutes in the shower checking yourself for a possible tick bite should do the trick. You should especially be mindful of checking yourself when you know you’ve been exposed to anyplace where ticks may thrive such as the woods or a park.
#2 Deer Tick Populations
Deer tick populations – the species that causes the most Lyme disease infections – skyrockets toward the end of June, making July and August the peak time for a tick infestation. Not all ticks carry disease but most of them do, so it’s always a good idea to be on the safe side and go to a doctor if you think you’ve been bitten.
#3 Removing Ticks
You can’t remove a tick with any of the tricks you’ve heard about using perfume, Vaseline, or alcohol. Once a tick attaches itself to your skin and begins to feed the only real way of getting rid of it is to physically remove it. The best way is to use a pair of needle nose tweezers. You want to gently pull it out by grabbing it as close the skin as possible. Pull it out without jerking or twisting so that you don’t kill it by separating its head from the body – or risk leaving the head buried beneath your skin.
#4 Ticks Don’t Jump
Ticks don’t jump, fly or fall down from trees. They crawl upwards from your feet to whatever body part you find one on. Ticks have evolved to want to attach themselves around your head, neck and ears where your skin is thinner, making it easier for them to attach themselves. Also, attaching themselves to the heads of their hosts is a way for them to possibly avoid detection since it’s an area mammals are less likely to groom.
#5 Ticks Thrive in Any Season
Ticks can thrive in any season and need to be exposed to below freezing temperature for some time before they start dying off. That means that even in cold winter months you and your pets can be at risk of catching ticks. Ticks will be even more active on non-freezing days in December, January and February since they’ll likely be more in need of finding hosts to carry them through the winter. The trick is to always be ready.
Lyme disease is a disease spread by deer ticks in summer months. It is most common in wooded areas of the United States, such as Washington, Oregon, and the east coast. The disease has four stages, and sufferers can be severely disabled if Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated during the early stages.
Lyme Disease Can Have Serious Symptoms
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a distinctive circular rash, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms. If the illness is not treated, other symptoms can develop, such as joint pain, extreme fatigue, additional skin rashes, and severe joint pain. Joints may also swell dramatically, and the patient may experience chronic pain. Severe, untreated Lyme disease can lead to brain damage, heart damage, severely painful joints, heart palpitations, and more.
Deer Ticks Can Carry Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is transmitted to humans from other mammals by deer ticks. The ticks feed on the blood of an infected animal, then transfer the disease to humans when they bite. To prevent Lyme disease, it’s important to prevent tick bites whenever possible. Practicing appropriate rodent control and tick control can help limit the spread of Lyme disease. Eliminating rodents and ticks will also help you to get rid of fleas, and is well worth the investment.
Ticks Prefer Rodents as Hosts
Humans are most commonly infected by deer ticks that move from deer or rodent hosts to their human hosts. Ticks cannot fly, so they must crawl from one host to another. They frequently crawl around on high grass or shrubbery in wooded areas in order to move from one host to another, although they can also travel into homes while attached to rodents or pets.
Lifestyle Choices that Can Help Prevent Contracting Lyme Disease
The only way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to avoid being bitten by a deer tick that’s carrying it. If you’ll be outdoors, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into your socks. If you have long hair, wear it up or under a hat. Apply an insect repellent that’s EPA approved for ticks, and when you return home, strip and thoroughly inspect your body for ticks. If you are bitten by a tick and develop a rash or increased fatigue, visit your doctor promptly so that you can be tested for Lyme disease.
Eliminating Tick Habitats Near Your Home Can Help Keep You Safe
To reduce the danger of contracting Lyme disease, consider adjusting your landscaping. Trim bushes and tall grass to eliminate hiding places for rodents and deer ticks. If you have pets that frequently go outdoors, fence your yard to keep them out of wooded areas and help prevent the spread of ticks. Consider replacing decorative landscaping near your home with rocks or other low landscaping, so that there’s nowhere for rodents to hide near your house. Monitor your pet’s behavior carefully, and check them regularly for ticks when they enter your home. This will help prevent ticks from crawling from your pet, to your home’s furnishings, to your body.