Critters: It’s tick season: Be safe out there
By Debra Bell
Special to The Weekly
Ticks. They’re creepy, crawly, and just plain gross. And one bite from a tick could — but not always — result in any number of diseases.
In 2015, the CDC reports that there were 1,171 cases of Lyme disease reported. But the number of tick bites could be much higher. There are 15 species of ticks in Maine, yet, not every tick bite results in Lyme disease, one of its co-infections or any number of other diseases. Other tick borne diseases include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan encephalitis. Deer ticks are the most common and are also the type of tick responsible for transferring lyme disease.
How to prevent tick bites:
- Wear light-colored clothing. You’ll see ticks more easily.
- Tick pant legs into socks and shirt into pants when hiking or walking through the woods, tall grass or brush. Deer ticks like to transfer onto socks and shirts and then head up the body.
- Use a tick repellant with DEET or Picardin on clothes and skin. Other natural products like Mutt Nose Best’s U Tick Me Off can be used to repel ticks. Be careful when using DEET especially on young children, animals or skin as it can dissolve plastic and varnish.
- Treat your pet with flea and tick medications. Always check with your veterinarian before starting treatment.
- Do a tick check after coming indoors or after your pets come indoors. Ticks love warm dark places. Check behind knees, behind and inside ears, in between toes, in the belly button and pelvic area, in or around body folds, or scalps. On dogs, also check the hollow area on their front legs near their feet.
- Shower within two hours of being outdoors in tick habitat. Showering and washing will remove unattached ticks, but will not dislodge ticks who are feeding.
- Tumble dry clothes after coming inside in the dryer for 10 minutes on high to kill ticks.
- Avoid woody or brushy areas or high grass and fields.
So what happens if you find a tick — other than doing the icky dance? Remove it ASAP. But don’t just rip it out. To remove with tweezers: grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible then pull upward with steady motion. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. Or, if you prefer, use a tick removal device and follow the directions on the package. Tweezers are best, the CDC reports.
If you remove a tick that has bitten you or has been feeding on your beloved furry friend, drown it in rubbing alcohol and save the tick. According to Ticks In Maine — an organization housed at Maine Medical Center — knowing the exact date you were bitten and the type of tick can help your doctor and if you become sick within 2–3 weeks after the bite, keeping the tick can help.
For more information on ticks and how to spot them and prevent bites, visit ticksinmaine.com, a website managed by Maine Medical Center.
Debra Bell is a freelance writer, graphic designer and the owner of Bell’s Furry Friends Photography (a division of Bell Imaging & Design LLC). Bell’s Furry Friends Photography has been named Bangor’s Best Pet Photography Studio in 2014–16. Debra and her husband Bill, are owned by a Maine coon cat named Olivia, a greyhound named Buddy and an angel greyhound named Laura. See her work and learn more about Bell’s Furry Friends Photography at bffpetphotos.com.