Let’s get it out…ticks are gross! They are tiny little arachnids (like spiders) that burrow their practically microscopic head right into your skin. If that weren’t repulsive enough, they are also little blood-sucking vampires that feed on you when you’re not paying the least bit of attention.
Disgusted yet? Good.
Ticks aren’t just grotesquely pesky, they also carry a wide array of potential health risks, some of which can be fatal.
Here’s what you need to know; ticks can pass diseases from other mammals to humans. As research scientist Goudarz Molaei explains to CNN, up to 15 diseases can be passed to humans from three different species of ticks.
These ticks are known as the Deer tick, the Lone Star tick, and the Dog tick, as seen below.
However, the most important of these ticks is the black-legged tick… it is involved in transmission of at least five important disease agents: babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, Powassan virus and Lyme disease.
Of these diseases, Lyme’s is by far the most common. The CDC reports over 30,000 new cases of Lyme’s disease are diagnosed each year. With average winter temperatures rising, that number is expected to grow.
Common symptoms of tick bites are fever/chills, mild to severe muscle aches and pains, and rashes. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, think again.
These seemingly nondescript symptoms are also the early warning signs of Lyme’s disease.
If left untreated, this disease will cause widespread inflammation of the nervous system. Meaning you could slowly digress into a catatonic (vegetable) state, and never know why.
Lyme’s is easily treatable with antibiotics, but only if done within the first week or so of contracting the disease. It’s prevalent because ticks can be minuscule, and a person often doesn’t realize they’ve been bitten.
Always be diligent in checking yourself and your pets after an outing in tick-territory.
Where is tick country, you might ask? Unfortunately, it is virtually everywhere. According to the Lyme’s Disease Association,
Many people think ticks are only present in the woods. However, ticks can be found in many areas.
- Where woods/fields meet lawn
- Wooded areas
- Tall brush/grass
- Under leaves*
- Very small numbers on cut/raked lawns or sports fields
- Under ground cover (plants) in yard *
- Around stone walls and woodpiles where mice & other small mammals live
This is why you need a tick-kit!
Your kit should include:
- sharply pointed tweezers
- antiseptic wipes
- antibiotic ointment
- small container with label or tape and post-it notes
It’s not only important that you remove a tick ASAP, but it’s equally important how you remove the tick.
Never pull too hard and break the head off inside the skin!
Doing so can lead to further bacterial infection. In order to remove a tick:
- take fine-tipped tweezers and reach as far down toward the end of the head as possible.
- Squeeze the tweezers tight enough so they won’t slip.
- Once you have your grip, very slowly and firmly pull the tick out. If it does break, immediately have a medical professional remove it.
Trust me when I say that these guys don’t pull out easy! If you use too much force though, it will break apart.
So remember, slow and steady wins the race!
Put it in a jar or tape to a post-it and label it with the date/time/location of the bite/environment/and any symptoms you experience.
This will help the Dr. in diagnosing you, as well as keep records current with the CDC when the Dr. reports it.
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H/T: Scary Mommy