Most people are aware of ticks, however there’s a lot of misinformation out there surrounding these little disease carrying vampires, especially when it comes to risks and how to deal with the ones found chowing down on you. During this guide we’ll be looking at some tips that can better protect yourself for your next adventure.
Common Tick-Borne Diseases
There are many tick-borne infections that pose a threat to both humans and our dogs. Below are a few of the well known and recently surfaced tick-borne illnesses.
- Lyme Disease – Spread by the deer tick, this is the most feared outcome of a tick bite. It can be very hard to diagnose once you have it for a while, and can cause lifelong chronic illness, if left untreated. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotic. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans.
- Alpha-gal – Alpha-gal is a carbohydrate found in the cells of many mammals that humans eat. The Lone Star Tick contains alpha-gal, and their bite can trigger the immune system to go on defense and over-react to it. It can make you allergic to meat.
- Ehrlichia – (humans and dogs) Lone star ticks are the primary source of Ehrlichia. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches, which typically occurs within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite.
- Babesia – Also called a “piroplasm,” this tick introduced pathogen can cause malaria-like symptoms and is very much malaria-like in action that infects red blood cells.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – Infections occur mainly east of the Rocky Mountains, but have also been found in limited areas on the Pacific Coast. If you don’t get treated for it by the fifth day after a bite, the disease is highly fatal.
- Pacific Coast Tick Fever – Both dogs and human can suffer from this painful and debilitating tick-borne disease.
The most important thing to remember if you find a tick on you is to remain calm. It typically takes 36 hours for the bacteria that causes Lyme diseases to travel from the tick gut to its salivary glands and then into the host.
The way in which you remove the tick is also very important.
Tick Bite Prevention
To help protect yourself and your family, you should:
- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
- Wear light-colored protective clothing.
- Tuck pant legs into socks.
- Avoid tick-infested areas.
- Check yourself, your children, and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks.
Knowing how to safely remove a tick will keep you safe and prevent you from making the situation worse.
Grab the tick by its head as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers. Using steady gentle pressure, gradually lift straight up without twisting. Twisting can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
There are other methods provided on the internet for tick removal but the most effective is by simply using tweezers.