Everyone knows that ticks can carry some pretty gross and dangerous diseases. Lyme disease remains at the top of that list but it is not the only one, by far.
In fact, in our part of the world the tick-borne illness you are most likely to contract is Rocky Mountain Spotted fever and it can be deadly. Carried by the American Dog Tick, symptoms of RMSF are likely to show up within 2-14 days of being bitten. If treated quickly with Doxycycline, an antibiotic, a patient can recover fully. Without treatment permanent damage to blood vessels is possible, which can lead to severe complications, loss of limbs, and death.
Our goal here is not to instill fear, only to promote safety. Upstate SC is such a beautiful place to live and we are lucky that we can spend most of the months of the year outdoors. It is not unthinkable to get up on a Saturday morning in December and plan a quick hike. Our outdoor spaces also tend to stretch across the border into North Carolina, which is one of the five states where 60% of RMSF cases occur. So living in a place where it is possible to spend so many weekend days outside and have the luxury of probably thousands of trails to hike, it’s imperative that we talk about safe practices.
Annual Incidence per Million Persons. Map Credit: CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/stats/index.html
Tick Safety, Before and After the Hike
Ticks like wooded areas and areas with high grass or brush. If you know that you are going in a highly populated tick area, it’s best to dress for it. Clothing treated with permethrin will keep you from bringing the ticks home. You can buy permethrin treated gear or you can treat it yourself.
Long pants and sleeves are not a bad idea either, you should even tuck your pant legs into your socks for extra protection. And don’t forget the insect repellent. Check for those that are EPA approved and contain one of the following: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
Now you are ready to enjoy your time in the great outdoors. However there is more work to be done at the end of the day. Time for a Tick Check! Be sure to check your pets, your gear, and yourselves once you make it back home. Showering soon after is the most effective way to wash off unattached ticks and find any that have possibly latched on. Ticks especially tend to find the hidden and dark places on your body such as in your hair, behind your ears, the back of the knees and even in your belly button. Full-body tick checks are vital to tick disease prevention!
What If You Find A Tick?
What if you did everything exactly like you were supposed to but you get home and find a tick attached to you anyway? It’s ok, you just need to remove it quickly and correctly.
Most tick-borne illnesses take 2 days of attachment to transfer from the tick to the host. To remove a tick you take a set of pointy-tipped tweezers and grasp tightly to the tick. With steady smooth pressure pull upward and outward as to remove all parts of the tick. Be sure to fully clean the bite area after the tick is removed. It is also best to make a note of the day you found the tick and where you most likely picked it up. That way if you begin to feel bad, you can give this information to your healthcare provider and it will assist in effective diagnosis and treatment.
Protection at Home Doesn’t Have to Be So Tough
There is no reason to avoid the outdoors or any of your favorite activities to avoid ticks, tick bites, and tick disease. Take a little extra time to be prepared and there is nothing to worry about. Get out and enjoy this great state of ours.
Now what about at home? Could there be ticks there too? The answer is yes, of course, but no one wants to have to go through all the preparation described above to spend time in their own backyard. Good news, you don’t have to. Professional tick protection is available and can put your mind at ease… even walk around barefoot and in short sleeves. Mosquito Squad of Greenville’s barrier spray and tick tube system eliminates the ticks so there is no need to spend all that time preparing and avoiding. Professional home treatment gets the ticks out of your yard and keeps them out from season to season. Call us today for more information and a tick control quote.