Outdoor Pests: Ticks & Their Diseases

Warm weather brings with it more motivation to do outdoor activities like camping and hiking. Yet people aren’t the only ones who come out in the warmer weather; ticks do too. Tick bites are a common threat for the outdoor person. Through a bite, a tick can transmit diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia, Lyme Disease, and Ehrlichiosis.

Taking preventative measures for tick bites is the best way to avoid getting a tick-borne illness. Key prevention includes wearing lightly-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants. Be sure to check for ticks daily after being out in tall grass or trees. An insect repellent containing DEET can be applied to both skin and clothing. It is important to remember that DEET-based insect repellants should not be used on children younger than 2 months. It is also recommended to bathe within 2 hours of being in an area where ticks are prevalent and you will want to make sure to check yourself or a loved one thoroughly to make sure no ticks are present.

Ticks that you find can be easily removed by using tweezers or fingers near the surface of the skin to ensure the whole tick is removed. It is also a good idea to throw the clothes you were wearing into the dryer for about 10 minutes on high so that any ticks attached to the clothes can be killed. If the clothes are yet, dry them for an additional 10 minutes.

Tick-borne illnesses are generally treatable with antibiotics. Testing depends on several factors that are determined on a case-by-case basis. If you have a known tick bite and develop symptoms including rash, fever, or any flu-like symptoms you should be evaluated immediately for possible tick-borne illnesses.

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