Top Ten Facts You Need to Know About Ticks

40,000 cases of lyme disease are documented in the United States alone every year, and health experts are predicting 2012 to be the worst year for Lyme risk ever. Why? A warm winter and a decrease in rodent population. What happens with fewer rodents? Ticks need to look for other hosts -- us!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who live or work in residential areas surrounded by tick-infested woods or overgrown brush are at risk of getting Lyme disease. Therefore, anyone who works or plays in their yard; participates in recreational activities away from home such as hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting; or engages in outdoor occupations such as landscaping, brush clearing, forestry and wildlife or parks management in endemic areas, may also be at risk of getting Lyme disease.

Here are some helpful tick-prevention strategies to keep you protected this summer:

  • Your yard: Ticks are not out in the middle of your lawn, they live where yards border wooded areas or anywhere it is shaded and there are leaves with high humidity. Place a layer of wood chips between your grass yard and the woods' edge. Ticks are attracted to the wood chips because of the shade and moisture they provide.
  • Tick checks: Do periodic tick checks and carefully remove any found.
  • Outdoor work: When working outdoors, try to remain in the center of a trail in order to minimize your exposure. Remember, ticks cannot fly; they crawl up. Avoid sitting directly on the ground, on woodpiles, or on fallen logs -- areas where ticks love to live.
  • Personal protection: Wear tick-repellent clothing.

Courtesy of tickencounter.org, here are 10 facts you need to know about ticks:

10. Ticks don't jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body.

9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium, and large sizes.

8. Ticks can be active even in the winter. Deer ticks in particular are not killed by freezing temperatures and will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen.

7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes. Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western United States, the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks. Scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance, but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.

6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its "cousins" found around the world.

5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection. Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick's saliva.

4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin, and with about one out of four nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western United States, it's important to know what you're really looking for. They're easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.

3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer. Using really pointy tweezers, it's possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter.

2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites.

1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable. There's really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease, and that's from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard, wearing tick-repellent clothing every day, treating pets every month, and getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan are all great actions for preventing tick bites.

Janine Robertson handles marketing and public relations for Insect Shield (www.insectshield.com/work). The company's repellent apparel is EPA registered to repel ticks and a variety of other pesky and potentially dangerous insects. The repellency is odorless, invisible, and long-lasting. A pilot study conducted by researchers at The University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health reported that the incidence of tick attachments was reduced by 99 percent among workers wearing Insect Shield Repellent Apparel. The report was published online March 11 in the journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases.

Posted by Janine Robertson on May 07, 2012


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