Summer is finally here. What a long cold winter and spring. I love summer, especially the outdoors and the opportunity to go on hikes and play disc golf. Unfortunately, the outdoors does not come without risk. In the high grass and other places are the small critters waiting for a blood meal — these critters are known as ticks.
Where ticks can be found
Ticks usually occur among high grasses and weeds such as overgrown vacant lots and fallow farm fields waiting for an opportunity to cling onto a passing animal or human. Ticks usually crawl to a high point on the body or where the skin is the thinnest on animals such as behind the ears and arm pits.
Ticks and Lyme disease
Ticks carry many diseases. Lyme disease is the most common disease carried by Ixodes which are known by their common names of deer and black legged ticks. Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia bacterium. This bacterium is transmitted by a bite from the tick. Signs of Lyme disease can occur within a week of the bite. The symptoms are usually rash, fever, headaches and fatigue. If left untreated symptoms can progress to joint and body pains. In the early stages of Lyme disease, the test can show negative. Other ticks can also spread diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia.
Seek treatment for infection
It is important to receive the appropriate antibiotics as soon as possible once symptoms of an infection are observed. Seek prompt medical attention if symptoms are experienced. Ticks cannot be tested for the bacterium successfully. Species of ticks can be identified if submitted to a proper laboratory.
Reduce exposure to ticks
The exposure to ticks can be reduced by;
1. Avoiding tick infested areas
2. Tucking pants into socks
3. Make frequent inspection for ticks.
4. Check children twice a day
5. Do not permit dogs to run loose.
6. Check clothing for crawling ticks. Keep yard and play areas well mowed.
Remove ticks safely
To remove a tick:
1. Shield fingers with a paper towel or use tweezers.
2. Grasp the tick close to the skin and with steady pressure pull straight out. Take care not to crush or puncture the tick.
Ticks can be safely disposed of by placing them in a container of oil, alcohol or kerosene.
Fayette County Public Health will be handing out tick removal tools at the Community Health Fair & Family Fun Day this Saturday, June 11 at Grace Community Church, 525 Glenn Avenue, Washington Court House. Health screenings will begin at 8 a.m. Family fun events will begin at 9 a.m. The Columbus Zoo will make an appearance at noon.
Rick Garrison is the Environmental Health Director for Fayette County Public Health. For further information about ticks, please visit the Ohio Department of Health web page and click on T for ticks.