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May 08, 2019

Tick-ed Off

By Lauren Hogarth

I was driving yesterday, windows down, my hair blowing in the breeze. Beside me in the passenger seat, our German Shorthaired Pointer, Milo, sprawled out lazily, enjoying the rare occurrence of riding shotgun. He laid his head back, both ears flopping over to expose the smooth inside. That’s when I saw it. Strange and definitely foreign looking, I ran my thumb over what looked to be a large skin tag on the inside of his left year. My initial thought was that it had to be a tick, as I had read multiple pieces detailing this year’s influx in tick populations. That being said, Milo has been on tick medication for the majority of his life and I didn’t think much of the ‘epidemic’. However, seeing one latching onto him was entirely different.

When my husband came home (he’s the bug guy, not me) he immediately checked the ear. Sure enough, there it was. A female deer tick! She wasn’t fully burrowed into Milo’s skin just yet, which made extracting her fairly simple. This was both of our first run-ins with discovering a tick on a dog, and we are now fully aware of how rampant they are this year.

All about Ticks

Ticks are tiny insects, typically the size of a sesame seed. They feed on blood from humans and other animals. Ticks partially burrow into the skin, and prefer to feed in heavily vascular areas like the head. The danger associated with ticks is simple: Lyme disease. The CDC reports more than 300,000 cases of Lyme disease each year, and health officials believe that 75% of these cases are caused by ticks. White-footed mice and chipmunks are the most well-known hosts of Lyme disease due to the bacteria they house. When a tick, and most commonly a deer tick, feeds on these rodents, they become a vector for the disease and transfer it to humans and other animals as a result.

Lyme disease manifests itself as a multi-system inflammatory disease that affects the skin in its early, localized stage. It starts out as a red rash in a bullseye pattern around the bite mark. From there, it spreads to the joints, nervous system, and other organ systems in its later, more advanced stages. If diagnosed in its early stages and immediately treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease is almost always cured. The disease in its later stages can also be treated effectively, but because the rate of progression and individual response to treatment varies from patient to patient. In humans, an attached tick must take a blood meal and then transmit the bacterium, borrelia burgdorferi, to infect a host with Lyme disease. In most cases, a tick requires at least 36 to 48 hours to have enough time to feed and spread the bacterium.

Tips for keeping Ticks away:

  • Keep firewood and debris away from home
  • Hang bird feeders away from the home
  • Mow yards and pathways regularly
  • Wear long pants and long sleeves while walking through tall grass or in the woods
  • Apply DEET insect repellent to clothing before walking through tall grass or in the woods
  • Always check yourself or have someone else inspect you for ticks after walking outside
  • Make sure pets are on flea and tick medication from their vet

Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump on to their hosts. They hang out in heavily wooded areas and on shrubs, bushes, and tall grasses, waiting for the hosts to brush up against the vegetation.  If you find a tick on your skin, it needs to be removed immediately. Make sure to thoroughly inspect all clothing after being outdoors— always check children and pets. If a tick burrows deeply into your skin, seek care of a professional. Mouth parts left behind can cause infection!

How to remove a tick yourself

  1. Using tweezers, gently grab the tick as close as possible to its mouth. The body of the tick should be above the skin.  Avoid touching the tick with bare hands! Using nitrile gloves is beneficial.
  2. Lift the tick from the skin with even force. ensuring you are squeezing the mouth.Squeezing can cause the stomach contents to leak from the mouth, which can cause infection. Do not pull, turn, or twist the tick as this increases the chances of separating the mouth from the body. Make sure to remove all mouth pieces and remnants left behind.
  3. Upon removal, clean the area with soap and water.

Hogarth’s now offers a new method of tick control; a multi-year process that results in 88% total population reduction of ticks in the first year, and up to 97.3% of ticks by the end of the second year. If you have discovered a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, do not hesitate to give us a call. This kind of pest prevention requires continual effort. We will be happy to help remediate this potentially dangerous problem. Keep your pets and loved ones safe this summer season!

 

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