Missy Henriksen: Hi! I am Missy Henriksen with the National Pest Management Association.
Today we are talking about the dangerous of ticks and diseases they can transmit. The most dangerous tick species is the black legged deer tick, sometimes just called deer ticks. These ticks can be smaller than the head of a pin and they pose serious health concerns, because they can transmit lyme disease. Lyme disease can cause flu like symptoms, such as fever, headache and fatigue. About 30% to 50% of victims will develop a red bulls-eye shaped rash as well. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but some people still experience muscle pain, fatigue and cognitive defects for months of even years afterwards. If left untreated, lyme disease can cause complications like arthritis, heart palpitations and neurological issues like tingling in the extremities or problems of short term memory. Ticks typically live in low growing brushy vegetations, along the edge of woods or trails. Deer ticks are often found in grass and shrubs. If you go outside, especially if you are walking through tall grasses, it's best to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as closed toed shoes. Use an insect repellant containing at least 20% DEET. If you are hiking, keep to the center of the trails away from vegetation. Once inside, check yourself for ticks and promptly remove any you find. Watch your pets too, avoid walking dogs in tall grass, and be sure to bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals. It's a good idea to wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys on a routine basis to minimize the chances of a tick bite. Keeping your grass cut low and eliminating piles of wood, weeds, or debris in your yard can also help deter ticks. If you need to remove a tick, pull it off slowly and steadily with tweezers, making sure the entire tick is removed from your skin.
Wash your hands and the bite thoroughly with soap and water. Flush ticks down the toilet or wrap them in tissue before placing them in a close receptacle. If a red bull's eye develops at the bite site, see a doctor immediately. And if you think you might have ticks on your property, call a licensed pet professional to treat the problem.