Tick season is back and it’s getting worse every year. Last year
almost 60,000 cases of tickborne disease were reported to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016 the total reported cases
was closer to 50,000. For the first time in the United States a new tick
species has been identified and seven new tickborne germs have been identified
in the past two decades.
Compared to all other insects, ticks are responsible for more human disease
than any others in the United States. These pesky critters are highly
effective in transmitting disease due to their indiscriminate tastes.
They feed from a variety of sources included mammals small and large as
well as birds and reptiles. Ticks can pick up diseases from a variety
of creatures and transmit that them to us. So, let’s discuss protection
from those pesky bites.
Here are ten tips to to prevent tick-borne illness:
- Use an insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET. It interferes
with a ticks’ ability to locate you. The American Academy of Pediatrics
and CDC recommends use of insect repellent containing up to 30% DEET for
infants over 2 months of age. DEET should not be used on children younger
than 2 months of age.
- Spray clothing and gear with a repellent called permethrin and let dry.
It will remain effective multiple washings. Do not use permethrin on skin.
- Stick to the center of trails and avoid overhanging brush and tall grass.
Ticks like to perch on the edge of grass and low brush waiting for a suitable
host to brush by.
- Where light color clothing to better spot a tick that may be trying to
hitch a ride.
- Consider long sleeves, tucking in your shirt, and taping pant legs into
socks to help prevent ticks from reaching your skin.
- Keep the lawn mowed and vegetation low to decrease tick attraction to your yard.
- Ticks are found most commonly on the head, neck, underarms and groin, so
be sure to carefully inspect yourself if you’ve spent time in tick-infested
areas. Showering can make locating ticks easier and a washcloth can dislodge
any not attached.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to both clean
ticks off and make it easier to find them before they bite you.
- If a tick is found, clean the area around the tick, and remove it promptly
with tweezers or commercial tick removing tools. After removal, disinfect
skin to prevent infection.
- Put dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks after
outdoor activities. Also, dry damp clothing thoroughly and tumble dry
on high for 10 more minutes.
If you do get bit, it’s valuable to recognize the signs and symptoms
of a tick-borne illness quickly. While symptoms vary based on the specific
illness, there some signals you can spot:
- High fever, shaking, chills
- Severe headache
- Muscle or joint aches
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Rash or pus-filled wound at the site of a tick bite
In general, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider if any
of the above symptoms occur. When you visit your provider be sure to mention
that you bit or you were in a tick-infested habitat. Many tick-borne illnesses
can be confused with different conditions.
Finally, if you find or remove a tick, don’t crush it as its blood
can be dangerous. Also, don’t throw it in the trash or flush it
down the toilet as ticks are resilient little critters. Instead, put it
in a jar and drown it with alcohol. That way, you can safely kill it and
if you do get sick you’ll have it for testing.
Stay safe this tick season. It will be one for the books.
If you are need of a healthcare provider, please feel free to set an appointment
with one of our primary care providers within the
St. Mary's Medical Group listed below:
Blue Springs Internal Medicine, 816-228-9841
Family Medical Care Associates, 816-228-1000
Oak Grove Medical Clinic, 816-690-6566