Don’t Get Ticked Off This Summer

As I tried to put off the many loads of laundry I should have been doing, I went to the raid the freezer for popsicles, but instead I was greeted by… A tick. Well, a tick that had bitten my mother in a labeled and dated Ziploc bag to be exact. Yes, it’s tick season again. As you head out to have fun in the summer, be careful. May and June are peak periods for ticks to come out looking for a meal, which means the possibility of the transmission of tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis is much more present. Lyme disease from tick bites is mostly caused by the deer tick in North Carolina. Flu-like symptoms and a red bulls-eye pattern rash are signs of Lyme disease. If symptoms are ignored, more serious problems can arise later such as meningitis and incapacitating pain. Ehrlichiosis from tick bites, another extremely dangerous disease, is caused by both the deer and dog tick. Symptoms, which include flu-like symptoms, vomiting, and nausea, can take from 5-10 days to a month to appear. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the number one disease caused by tick bites in North Carolina. This would be the reason why I found a frozen tick instead of a frozen treat in the freezer. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal if it’s not discovered and treated early enough, which is difficult because it presents itself in the same way as common viral infections (nausea, fever, aches, etc). So when my mom found the tick on her, she immediately removed it, and put it in the freezer so that in case she gets sick, she knows exactly when the tick bit her and can show her doctor the tick for identification. There are over 850 species of ticks but only four are mainly found in North Carolina, and only two out of the four might carry the organism that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever – the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Many people rely on old folklore remedies to remove ticks, such as using petroleum jelly or taking a match to it. Those people are dead wrong! Here’s the proper way to remove a tick:1) Use fine-tipped tweezers while protecting your hands and fingers with tissue or gloves.2) Take hold of the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with an even pressure. In other words, don’t jerk it out (no matter how tempting it is) because the body will rip away and leave mouthparts in your skin. In which case, you need to pluck them out, as well.3) Disinfect the bite and wash your hands.4) Don’t squish the tick with your hands – the fluids inside can contain infectious organisms.5) Follow Brenda Lynch’s suit and save that sucker. Put the tick in a Ziploc bag and write the date of the bite on a piece of paper and stick it in there with your new frozen trophy tick.6) You can toss the tick after a month if you don’t have any symptoms of illness. Try to keep ticks and other annoying insects off of you when you go out this summer by using DEET repellent. It needs reapplication every few hours, so keep a supply of it with you when you’re outside for long periods of time. If you have pets, you should use Frontline or another flea/tick repellent on them to keep them and you safe. Another way of preventing tick bites is to wear light colored clothing so you can see ticks crawling on you better. They usually crawl around for hours before attaching themselves to you. If you don’t catch it and it does bite you, if you remove it within the first 24 hours, there is a significantly less chance of disease transmission. Tucking your pants into your socks is another good way to keep ticks away from you and from crawling inside your pant legs. And lastly, every time you come inside, you should conduct a full body skin check to make sure you are tick-free. If you have concerns about a tick bite, contact the Health Center at 227-7640. Summer hours are Monday-Friday 8AM – 5:30PM, and Saturdays 10AM-1PM.