As warm weather approaches and people spend time outside, the threat of ticks becomes much more prevalent. Many people think of ticks in association with Lyme disease, but here are some other interesting facts about ticks that may help you to protect your family from these blood-sucking bugs.
- an be active in winter. But summertime is when you are most at risk for a tick bite because of the fact that outdoor activities are more likely to happen
- Ticks range in size. From the nymph which may be as tiny as the head of a pin, to an engorged tick that may be a 3-4 millimeters in diameter, ticks can vary significantly in size. So even though you may have seen a tick before, do not assume that they all look the same
- Ticks take time to spread disease. In most cases, you have a 24 hour window before disease sets in. Unlike a mosquito the can transmit disease within moments and then fly away, a tick typically does not transmit diseases instantaneously. Some may start as early as 8 hours but others may take up to a day. Typically if you can perform tick removal within the first 24 hours, you’ll not likely contract Lyme disease
- Tick removal works best with tweezers. Trying to pry a tick out with your fingernails in a panic isn’t a great idea. Wait until you have access to tweezers (bring a pair with you on a hike or go home if you didn’t). Grab the part of the tick that is next to the skin and carefully pull it swiftly upward. If you see a bit of it left in your skin, don’t panic. That part will fall out. If you’re out in the wild, collect it in a plastic bag. If you’re at home, you can flush it down the toilet. Wash your skin with soap and water or use antibacterial alcohol wipes
- Not all ticks spread disease. Lyme disease is probably the most infamous condition that ticks are known for, but only deer ticks actually carry this, giving all other tick variations a bad rep. On the other hand, most ticks carry some sort of disease-causing pathogen or another, so none of them is truly innocent
- 3 types of ticks are found in Houston. These are: Lone Star Tick, Rocky Mountain Wood Tick, and Brown Dog Tick. The Lone Star Tick carries diseases such as ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Heartland virus, and Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI). The Rocky Mountain Wood Tick can transmit Colorado tick fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And the Brown Dog Tick also may carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Tick Control and Prevention
The good news is that most tick bites can be prevented through awareness and simple action. Some common sense practices will help you to avoid tick bites. Wear long pants and long sleeves. Tuck your pants into your socks or boots. Avoid brushing up against foliage where ticks might be hiding. Or wear tick protective clothing treated with permethrin to prevent ticks from grabbing on to you.
In addition to these protective measures, perform a tick check every two or three hours. Focus particularly on your belly, armpits, scalp, ears, backs of knees, and between legs. Look carefully because some of these ticks can be extremely small—like a freckle. For pets, a tick may simply look like a dark spot on the skin so be sure to comb through fur carefully.