Keep checking for ticksThis summer seems to be the summer of ticks.
By: Samantha Lahman, Extension Educator Intern, Alexandria Echo Press
This summer seems to be the summer of ticks. Spend one hour outside in some tall grass and you are sure to have a tick crawling somewhere on your body. To make matters worse, as soon as you find one, you will no doubt have that creepy crawly feeling that they are all over you.
Minnesota has two species of ticks, the wood tick and the deer tick. Wood ticks are relatively harmless, while deer ticks can carry lyme disease and more recently, Powassan virus.
Wood ticks are basically brown. Unfed males and females are reddish-brown and about 3/16-inch long. Female wood ticks have a “necklace,” a small band of white dots around the neck while male wood ticks have “suspenders,” white dotted lines running parallel down their back.
Adult deer ticks are tiny, approximately the size of a sesame seed. Males are black; females have a brick-red abdomen and a black shield near the head.
The following are tick tips that should help you stay informed this summer:
• When outside, wear clothing that covers you, such as jeans, long sleeves, practically anything you wouldn’t want to wear on a Minnesota summer day.
• Check yourself and others for ticks, the quicker you get them off the better.
• Remember when you are looking for ticks that they like warm dark places.
• If you have a tick: identify it.
• Remove ticks with a tweezers then wipe down the area with alcohol or anti-bacterial.
• Kill the tick! Don’t just flick it, kill it.
• Watch the bite area closely. At any sign of redness or swelling, have it checked out by your doctor.
If you have been bitten by a deer tick, don’t panic. Watch the area extremely closely; at any signs of a target-like redness, swelling or soreness, go in to the doctor as soon as possible.
A word of caution: not all lyme disease and deer tick virus symptoms are easily seen, and many times symptoms are flu-like. To put your mind at ease, here are a few facts about lyme disease: Deer ticks only feed three times in their lifetime; they can only contract the bacteria that cause lyme disease during their first feeding. They can only spread the bacteria during their second and third feeding. A deer tick has to have been on you for at least 24 hours before the disease can be spread to you.
The best cure for either disease is to never have gotten it in the first place. So, the next time you come in from your outdoor adventures, do a quick check for these creepy crawly critters. When in doubt, consult your physician.
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