Awareness, Prevention, and Identifying Ticks

6-23-19 Ticks

It’s about that time when I start to become more wary of ticks with us having warmer weather and all so I wanted to do some research about the ones we should all be looking out for, prevention, and also identifying a tick bite.

April through September are considered to be prime tick months, and Virginia is a hotspot for them. There are 17 different species of ticks, each with their own habitat. In VA, the lone star tick transmits the most diseases and they’re one of the two most common ticks that live around here. 

Both the long star and blacklegged ticks are forest creatures that like shady environments which may be hard to believe- I always thought ticks were most likely in tall grass. Be very cautious of blacklegged ticks because they carry Lyme disease. 

Another tick to be wary about are the Asian longhorned tick which was discovered two years in the United States. This species has been found in Staunton, Augusta County, and other areas throughout the state. They like the mountains and agricultural areas which means they’re in both the woods and open fields. Because they’re relatively new here, we don’t know their biting patterns yet because their feeding behaviors haven’t been identified yet. 

With all that being said, let’s talk about prevention.

– Apply an EPA registered repellent a few days before going outside to allow for proper drying. Put this on your shoes, socks, clothing, and outdoor items. 

– Wear light colored protective clothing

– Tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants

– Shower as soon as possible after spending time outdoors

– Tumble dry clothing on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks that could be on your clothes

– Thoroughly check your body and scalp and inspect your outdoor gear

– Inspect your pets and try to choose open areas when walking your dog instead of walking near or beside thick brush

A lot of people have suggested Cedar oil as an all natural repellent for ticks. For a quick and easy recipe, simply mix four ounces of distilled or boiled water, witch hazel and 30 to 50 drops of cedar essential oil. 

Now let’s talk about identifying a tick bite. 

Before panicking, keep in mind that a tick needs to stay attached to the skin for quite some time in order to transmit the bacteria that causes illnesses and diseases like Lyme disease, so unless you find a tick still attached to your skin, a lot of people say it’s likely you won’t even notice you’ve been bit. 

If you do start having an allergic reaction or you start to develop an infection, it’ll be bright red and swollen. Lyme disease shows up as a bull ring pattern or a rash that looks like small red patches dotting the skin. If you see a tick on your body that doesn’t brush off easily, it’s important to remove it as quick as you can. The most common way is to get a set of tweezers and gently pull straight up and then clean that part of your body with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.  If you do remove a tick and are concerned about whether or not it could carry disease and transmitted it to you, don’t discard it. Put it in a plastic bag or a jar with a lid. Pediatricians, general practitioners, and infectious disease specialists can advise if the tick should be tested for bacteria and disease.

For AMR News, I’m Abby Dufour


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Abby Dufour

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