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Ticks and What You Need To Know About Them

04 Jun

Tick_jena Ticks are an often underestimated and poorly understood foe.  In my travels I’ve found that the majority of family campers that I have met lack a good understanding about ticks and the dangers they bring with them.

Let’s take a look at why we should be worried about ticks, how to spot them, how to keep them at bay, and what to do if you get bitten by one.

Why are ticks so dangerous?

Quite simply, ticks are known to carry and transmit diseases that can be fatal to human beings.  The best known disease that is transmitted by ticks is Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by the bite of an infected deer tick.  It’s a chronic debilitating condition that can cause musculo-skeletal, cardiac and central nervous system disorders.  If detected early, treatment is relatively easy and effective.

Lyme disease is just one of many diseases that ticks can carry.  A few other well know health conditions transmitted by ticks are Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and tularemia.

Ticks also pose a significant risk to pets, so don’t forget about your your family dog when you’re camped at the site.

How do I spot a tick?

It’s important to note that different species of ticks live in different areas.  A tick that you spotted in one location may look very different from a tick you spot when you are camping in a different location.

Whenever you or your children partake in outdoor activities, you should complete a visual inspection for ticks.  It’s best to do this before returning indoors (i.e. tent, trailer, motorhome, or cabin).

The most common places to find ticks are:

Clothes

  • on exposed clothing
  • under collars and cuffs

Body

  • around the scalp
  • nape of the neck
  • behind the ears
  • behind the knees
  • under armpits
  • any exposed skin

Here are some pictures to help you determine if you’ve found a tick.  Deer ticks are the most common, so the first picture shows different stages of the deer tick lifecycle.  The picture on the right will help you identify some of the other species.

deer_tick_identification Tick_identification

Be sure to check pets carefully, as ticks can hide very easily in pet hair.

Tick_on_dog

What can I do to be prepared?

The best preparation in dealing with ticks is to limit your exposure.  Take special care when entering heavy woods, long grasses, or areas with standing water as ticks thrive in these areas.

If you are planning to enter the woods or the fields between April and October, be sure to dress in a way the will best protect you and your kids from the ticks.  Wear loose fitting clothes and tuck your long pants into your socks.

Ticks will travel up your body until they hit a roadblock.  Wearing long sleeve shirts with collars and cuffs will help stop their travels.  Make sure your shirt is tucked into your pants.  Light colored clothing will make spotting ticks a lot easier then dark colors.

Use insect repellents that are designed to keep ticks away whenever possible.  As with any sprays, make sure to read the directions and use appropriately.  Keep poisonous sprays out of reach of children.

What do I do if I find a tick?

Removing and disposing of ticks is essential to ensuring your safety.  Care should be taken to remove a tick properly, so that an infection can be avoided.

tick_removal Rule number one is simply – don’t waste time.  The sooner you get a tick off of you or your child, the better.

The most common way to remove a tick is to grasp it with a pair of tweezers as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull it away.  You could also use any number of tick removal products available on the market. (see below)

Once removed, destroy the tick and dispose of it in a waste receptacle or toilet.  Do not toss it into the grass.  If it were to survive, it could colonize the area and further increase the health risks.

If the tick did bite, treat the area with a topical anti-biotic.  For the following few weeks, watch for any rashes or flu like symptoms to develop.  If they do, consult a physician as soon as possible.

Do not remove ticks with commonly used methods such as Vaseline, matches, or cigarettes.  These methods will increase the chance of the tick injecting bacteria into the skin of the person it has bitten.

Do you have any advice with regards to ticks?  Let us know in the comments.




 

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  1. Terrence Dillashaw

    June 19, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Awesome post. Just found it on Bing. Thank you for the useful information. Keep up the great work :)

     
  2. Tyson F. Gautreaux

    June 29, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Very informative article… Looking forward for more articles on your blog

     
  3. Ben

    May 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Excellent post…. often forget about these little fella. thanks

     
  4. Sandy

    September 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    One thing I didn’t see emphasized in your otherwise excellent article is that it is extremely important not to leave the tick’s head embedded in the flesh. If there’s any doubt that you removed the entire tick, keep it in a pill bottle and see a Dr or Vet. (S)he’ll be helped by seeing the tick as well as the patient.

     
  5. Howard

    September 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Very good post. It brought back memories of my parents stripping us down and checking for ticks immediately upon returning from any trip into the rockies of Colo.

     
  6. LP

    March 25, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The BEST way I’ve found to remove a tic is to lightly place your finger on top of the tic, then rub the tic in a clockwise circle. It annoys the tic and it will release itself and fall off. Put the tic in a sandwich bag and pop it – dead tic, no mess.

     
  7. Carola Hay

    June 3, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I could not agree with the fact more! Awesome post, have a wonderful day, L8rs.

     
  8. Gary

    February 8, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Great post,
    I don’t think I ever had a tick on me but they freak me out. It looks like the best way to get rid of one is the tweezers pull straight out gently method. There are some conflicts on some of the methods. I’ll just stick with yours. I did find some Insect Repellants here if you were interested. Thanks for the info.

     
  9. Jeffrey E.

    May 8, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Nice post, little more detail from a guy who has been bitten. Last summer while hiking in Prague with my wife, I woke up the next day and saw a tiny dot on my thigh; it was a tick, not embedded or blown up yet. I pulled it off safely; 5 days later back in the US I felt like I got hit by a bus! I never got the “bulls eye”, profuse vomitting, and diahrea. Those are not typical symptoms of Lyme – that’s because it was Ehrlichiosis. Even with the Lyme titer and a negative reading from the doctor for Lyme, it was only by chance that a woman overheard me talking to my dad and she told me she had suffered from Ehrlichiosis for 3 years before they could figure out what she had. I went on a 21 day regiment of Doxycycline…powerful stuff (stay out of the sun) but it worked well. So well that a couple days after my regimen, my body was still processing the doxy to the tune of giving me vertigo like symptoms that I went to the ER for a brain scan. This was seriously scary, and I’m a 42 year old former infantrymen.
    So far this year we have pulled 4 ticks off of our dog. The Bayer pet collar seems to work well – the ticks do not engorge.
    Be safe! Check your little ones too – my nephew was bit in Westport CT at age 5 and today at age 12 has JRA. It took several years for the best docs at HSS in NYC to figure it out, he has a 25% of growing out of it as an adult.

     
  10. Douglas

    June 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Great Post!! I was just talking to my wife today after finding a tick on our dogs ear. It could had just easily been on our grandchildren. it was bark brown with the black spot on its back. I took the blow torch to the Tick and was left to ashes. Our dog was also treated with no sighs of any diseases, our vet suggested a follow up in 30 days to be certain!

     
  11. Kayla

    July 13, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    You should send the removed tick to get tested just for extra safety measures. Public health or most hospital or doctors offices have information on where to send it for your region.