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Health

Summer is arriving, so are the bugs
How to protect family and pets from tickborne illness
 
Published Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:00 am
by Michaela L. Duckett

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 20,000 people in the United States are infected each year with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection caused by tick bites.

While it is a good idea to take preventative measures against ticks year-round, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges extra vigilance in warmer months (April – September) when we spend more time outside and ticks are most active.

Follow these tips:

  • Avoid areas where ticks fester – such as shaded, wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in center of trails.
  • Use repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply to children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand held or full-length mirror to view all body parts. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later.
  • Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.

How to remove a tick

There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively. If you find a tick attached to your skin, first disinfect the area with an alcohol swab. Then, follow these steps from the CDC to remove the tick immediately:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure and pull the tick straight out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
    CDC also advises against using folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible, not waiting for the tick to detach.

Preventing ticks on pets

Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Tick bites on dogs may be hard to determine. Signs may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pet, the CDC recommends following these precautions:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they have spent time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
  • As your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases in your area.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.

For more information on protecting your family and your pets from ticks, visitwww.cdc.gov.

 Related Article:

Comments

A summary of important information concerning Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases is available in video format that can be viewed in less than 5 minutes: "What Is Lyme Disease: An evidence-based exploration of the concepts and common medical misconceptions of Lyme disease" http://youtu.be/tX70ivbRyJ4
Posted on June 13, 2014
 

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