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Stay Healthy This Summer – Tick protection

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Stay healthy this summer with knowledge about tick protection.  They are really no one’s favorite subject, yet they are all around us all the time.  However, some places have a higher potential for you to encounter the not so elusive, tick.

They are in grass, the trees, on plants and of course, we associate the with animals such as deer and pets.

Summer brings the joy of being outside and having fun. But, protecting ourselves from ticks must be top of our summer list right along with sunscreen and hydration.

Here is our advice and tips to frequently asked questions.

Where are ticks?

  • Ticks are commonly found in shady areas, moist ground litter, tall grass, brush and low tree branches and along trails in the woods.

Can I have an allergic reaction?

  • Ticks can cause allergic reactions and can pass diseases onto humans and pets when they bite.

Can I see them?  How large are they?

  • Ticks can range in size from as small as a pin’s head to a pencil eraser.

Is there a particular area of the body where they are more likely to bite?

  • Ticks prefer moist and warm parts of the body and can remain attached to you after they bite you, they can remain attached up to ten days.
    • Ticks will likely migrate to armpits, back of knees, waistband, groin area or hair once they’ve attached themselves to you.

How can I remove them?

  • Remove ticks with tweezers, as close to the skin surface as possible and wash the area with disinfectant afterward.

How can I tell if I have an allergic reaction?

  • Tick bites are usually harmless, but if you’re allergic to ticks you may notice these symptoms:
    • Pain or swelling
    • A rash
    • A burning sensation
    • Blisters
    • Difficulty breathing

Is it true you can catch diseases from ticks?

  • Diseases can develop from a tick bite and will usually be apparent within a few days or a few weeks after the bite takes place. Symptoms of a tick-borne disease include:
    • A red spot or rash
    • Full body rash
    • Neck stiffness
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Weakness
    • Muscle or joint pain, or achiness
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Swollen lymph nodes

Should I visit a doctor if bitten?

  • Visit a doctor if you are bitten by a tick to see if treatment is needed. It can be hard to determine if you received a tick bite but pay attention to these symptoms if you’ve recently spent a lot of time in the woods/in nature, or if your pets have been in the woods recently.

What diseases can be transmitted by ticks?

  • Ticks can transmit:
    • Lyme disease – Most common in Pacific NW, NE, and upper Midwest; bite can sometimes have a bullseye pattern
    • Colorado tick fever – Limited to Canada and the western US
    • Rocky Mountain spotted fever – can cause serious damage to internal organs; can result in a spotted rash
    • All three can result in infections in the joints, heart and nervous system

What time of the year or season am I more likely to come in contact with ticks?

  • Ticks are peak population in the spring and summer: April through September

Which ticks are most common in the state of Georgia?

  • Common ticks in Georgia:
    • Lone Star Tick – Can cause rashes and illnesses
    • American Dog Tick – Can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, requires at least 4 hours of attachment to cause illness
    • Deer Tick – Can cause Lyme disease, requires at least 24 hours of attachment to cause illness

Has there been any recent news about ticks?

  • Recent news – Potentially deadly tick-borne virus spreading across the country (reported by 11Alive in May 2017)
    • Powassan virus, spread by the Deer Tick, none reported in Georgia as of May 2017, but doctors worry that could change
    • Believed to be a more deadly version of Lyme disease; it can cause meningitis (an infection of the brain), encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
    • So far cases have been reported in the NE and Great Lakes region
    • Doctors recommend that if you remove a tick, keep it in a plastic bag so that if you develop symptoms (fever, vomiting, weakness), it can be tested
    • Doctors worry the amount of tick-borne illnesses will be above average this season due to the mild winter

How can I protect myself?

  • Protect yourself:
    • Wear insect repellent (with the chemical picaridin)
    • Wear long sleeves and pants
    • Avoid areas with heavy brush or long, unkempt grass
    • Check yourself, don’t assume that because you haven’t been in the woods that you haven’t come into contact with ticks
    • Stay in the center of nature paths in the woods
    • Sticking to sunny areas can help you avoid ticks
    • Wearing light-colored clothing can help you spot a tick

How can I protect my pets?

  • Protect cats and dogs:
    • Maintain their yard/environment by spraying with a safe spray containing fenvalerate
    • Consider using once-a-month insecticides that are applied to your pets’ back
    • Flea and tick spray (some sprays are not safe to spray on cats, but are safe for dogs, consult your vet)
    • Flea and tick shampoo
    • Flea and tick collars

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