Friday, March 16, 2012

Tick'd Off

There is a big negative to all the warm weather we’ve had lately.  I think we all know where i’m going with this.  Tick season has started.  I have seen the first tick of the year and spoken to others who have picked them off as well.  No one likes them, but with everything else in nature they do serve a purpose.  They help determine the health of a certain area.  Ticks attach themselves to animals such as deer.  If the tick population is high in an area that means it gets wildlife traffic.  If ticks aren’t present that means there isn’t much wildlife around.  They also are food for birds and bugs.  There are birds that actually see an engorged tick on a host and pick it off it.  How wild would it be to see a bird land on a buck and pick a tick off it then fly away.

The downsides to ticks is that they carry diseases that harm humans.  Each type of tick has it’s own disease it spreads.  The top two disease that they spread are Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease.  The Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever produces joint and muscle pain, dizziness, and seizures.  The ticks that transmit that are American Dog Ticks, Winter or Elk Tick, and the Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick.  Those are generally found in the southeast.  It is treatable with antibiotics but without medical attention it’s fatal.  This is New England so we only hear of Lyme Disease.  Lyme Disease is only carried by Deer Ticks, which are EVERYWHERE around here.  Lyme disease is likely to be cured if caught early.  If you see a Deer Tick on you the first step is to remove it.

The proper way to remove it is by grabbing the tick as close to the head as possible and pull it straight out.  There are also products on the market that assist with this if you don’t want to carry around tweezers.  I personally use a Tick Key and it works great.  That’s really the only proper way to remove ticks.  Do not burn them, grab them by their stomach and squeeze, twist when removing them, or grab them with your bare hands.  The head of the tick MUST COME OUT.  Properly clean the tweezers when you are done and dispose the tick properly.  I soak my key or tweezers in bleach.  We have a little cup we fill with bleach and drop the tick in to kill it as well.

You’ll want to watch the area closely for the next several weeks to make sure you don’t get any pain, swelling, redness, pus, swollen lymph nodes, fever, or chills.  A surefire way to tell it’s time to go to the doctor is if you get the bullseye mark around where the tick was.  If you see that go to the doctor ASAP.  The tick generally takes 24hrs to 36hrs before the bacteria is transmitted, so you shouldn’t panic.

Now let’s talk about prevention.  I personally don’t use the product i’m about to mention so I don’t have any first hand experience, I have heard good things about them though.  I tuck my base layer into my socks during colder months when I go out in the woods.  When I return I immediately put those clothes in the dryer, on high heat then go shower.  I put them in the dryer because heat kills ticks.  Before I shower I check every nook and cranny.  In the warmer months I wear longer socks that go 3/4 of the way to my knee.  Sometimes i’ll band the bands around my boots or ankles so they can’t sneak up.  Either way the same process happens when I come home.  Clothes in the dryer and I check myself and shower.  The only product i’d suggest is clothing that has tick “juice” built in.  Elimitick is the brand that makes them.  I’m not a big fan of Deet or any other chemical you have to put on you.  I don’t really think that’s the safest route.  Elimitick’s line is mostly camo but they do have cargo pants and a long sleeve t-shirt that you can buy.  There may be similar products out there but I know this one and have heard great things about it.

Hopefully you learned something from all this and remember to ALWAYS check yourself.

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