Ticks. Nasty little buggers, aren’t they? These tiny bloodsuckers burrow their practically microscopic heads right into your skin, feeding on you and even transmitting potentially deadly diseases when you aren’t paying attention.
“However, the most important of these ticks is the black-legged tick… it is involved in transmission of at least five important disease agents: babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, Powassan virus and Lyme disease.”
In addition to Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever has shown up across the U.S. Diseases in other countries include the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, which can lead to death.
So how can you avoid a bite? It’s important to always be diligent in checking yourself and your pets after an outing in tick-territory, which is practically everywhere. According to the Lyme Disease Association,
Many people think ticks are only present in the woods. However, ticks can be found in many areas.
- Where woods/fields meet lawn
- Wooded areas
- Tall brush/grass
- Under leaves*
- Very small numbers on cut/raked lawns or sports fields
- Under ground cover (plants) in yard *
- Around stone walls and woodpiles where mice & other small mammals live
But in case you do happen to find a tick on you, have a tick-kit handy.
Your kit should include:
- sharply pointed tweezers
- antiseptic wipes
- antibiotic ointment
- small container with label or tape and post-it notes
Remove the tick as soon as possible, but never pull too hard. It can make the head break off inside the skin.
“One of the important things we tell people when they want to remove ticks is, don’t break the tick,” curator Dr. Lorenza Beati says. She explains that if you do so, any bacteria in the tick could end up on your skin. Always disinfect!
Take fine-tipped tweezers and reach as far down toward the end of the head as possible. Squeeze the tweezers tight enough so they won’t slip. Then, once you have your grip, very slowly and firmly pull the tick out. If it does break, immediately have a medical professional remove it.
Put it in a jar or tape to a post-it and label it with the date/time/location of the bite/environment/and any symptoms you experience.
This will help your doctor in diagnosing you, as well as keep records current with the CDC when they report it.