Ticks are a very common problem in our area and we’ve tackled the subject thoroughly. Whether it’s handling them on your pets or the different types of ticks, we know what makes them tick. On a serious note, there is a massive amount of data that points to ticks being a serious source of infection transmission. Let’s talk about them and how to avoid becoming infected yourself.
What we know about Lyme Disease and other infections
Truthfully, there are many diseases that ticks can carry: Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Borrelia miyamotoi Disease, Colorado Tick Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Heartland and Bourbon Virus Diseases, Powassan Virus Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis, Tickborne Relapsing Fever, Tularemia, Tickborne Diseases Abroad, Tick Bites/Prevention, Tick Bite Prophylaxis.
Certainly, the most common and dangerous in our region is Lyme disease. Lyme disease can have long-term, damaging effects on bite victims. In 2018, state and local health departments reported 47,743 cases of tickborne disease to the CDC. Some concerning late symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat (Lyme carditis)
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Nerve pain
- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
Avoid tick bites altogether
It’s best to keep your yard well-groomed to help prevent ticks. Cut grass low and remove weeds and debris, and keep shrubbery trimmed. Ticks hang out in the “fringes.” These are the buffer areas between the manicured lawn and woods. Remove, please. Ticks don’t fly or crawl through screens in the northeast: Screen all windows and doors and patch any holes or tears no matter how small.
When spending time outdoors, wear appropriate clothing. Long pants and sleeves can limit exposure to insect bites in general. Also, consider tying back hair or keeping it under a hat and wear light-colored clothing as these all make it easier to spot any ticks hitching a ride home with you. Lastly, avoid walking through tall grass, as this is a preferred hiding spot for fleas and ticks.
Inspect yourself, your pets, and your family members carefully for ticks after spending time outside. Be on the lookout for the telltale red bullseye rash around a bite.
What if you get bit by a tick?
If the tick is still attached, remove it with a slow, steady pull, making sure to completely remove all mouthparts from the skin. These can be very small, so we recommend using tweezers. Wash your hands and the bite with soap and warm water—antibacterial dish soap works just fine.
Save the tick in a secure container and contact your doctor or seek medical attention to ensure the bite won’t transmit a long-term infection. If your doctor doesn’t feel the need to have the tick analyzed, you can dispose of it in the trash. Or you can choose to send the tick to UMASS’s Tick Report service for your own peace of mind. It is a simple process. You go to tickrepot.com, place an order, send in your tick, and within 72 hours you’ll receive a report detailing any disease potential your specimen has. We here at Graduate have used their service in the past and have been very satisfied.
Our team at Graduate Pest Solutions specializes in prevention. Call us at 413-566-8222 or contact us with any questions or if you are experiencing a pest problem. We have the knowledge and service necessary to help keep your home and workplace pest-free!