Ticks – the small, blood-sucking bugs that live outdoors in grass, leaf piles, trees, and shrubs – like to hitch a ride: on you, or your dog, or your cat. Unlike other bugs, ticks like to stick around by remaining attached to your body after they bite. Most tick bites are harmless, but some pass diseases on to their human or animal “landing” sites, often causing symptoms within the first few weeks.
While it’s best to try and avoid the outdoor areas where ticks dwell, it’s also unrealistic to think that you’ll never encounter one. So unless you want to barricade yourself in the house for the season and miss out on camping, hiking, walking, picnicking, or playing sports outside, you’ll need to use the same protective measures as you would for any biting bug. Insect repellent, hat, long sleeves, long pants, and socks will help you to avoid these hangers-on as much as possible.
Potential symptoms of tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, include an expanding, quarter-size or larger red spot, at or near the bite itself; fever or chills; headache; muscle or joint pain; nausea; neck stiffness; rash; swollen lymph nodes; and weakness or achiness. Seek medical attention fast if you experience any tick-related symptoms.
Always have someone check your body and hair afterwards for ticks. Check pets when they come in from outdoors, too. If you do find one, use fine tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly and steadily upward, without twisting. Allow it to let go without leaving any part behind. Never crush a tick between your fingers! Fold it between two layers of clear tape and discard.
That’s a tick’s last stop!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano