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Two Rivers Public Health: Avoiding ticks and disease

FILE - tick crawling on person's arm (Photo Credit: NTV News)
FILE - tick crawling on person's arm (Photo Credit: NTV News)
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Tick season is here.

Two Rivers Public Health Department Environmental Health Specialist McKenzie Petersen has these tips to avoid ticks and the bacteria, viruses and parasites they can transmit:

Tick Season and Prevention

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during the spring months through early fall (April- September). Ticks live in areas with tall grass, brush, or wooded areas, or even on animals. With the warmer weather and spending more time outside working, playing, camping, or walking pets, one could come in close contact with ticks. To avoid contact with ticks, avoid wooded and brush areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails. Wear light colored clothing, so ticks are more noticeable. Occasionally use a lint roller on oneself and pets while outside to pick up smaller ticks that can be difficult to see. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents and always follow product instructions. Clothing and gear can be treated with the insecticide Permethrin prior to use. Do not use products containing Oil of lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.

One can reduce the number of ticks in your yard by removing leaf litter, clearing out tall grasses and brush, and removing any trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide. Use pesticides to reduce the number of ticks in treated areas of your yard. When using pesticides, check for rules and regulations regarding pesticide application on residential properties, always follow label instructions.

Pets can bring ticks into your home, for this reason, it’s important to check your pets for ticks, and use a tick-preventative product on your dog. Talk with your veterinarian about the best product for your dog(s). Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick-preventative products to your cat(s) without first asking your veterinarian!

Removal and Possible Disease Transmission

Be tick-conscious, ticks can carry and subsequently transmit various types of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Perform tick checks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Shake out clothing and place them in the dryer on high for 15 min. Heat, not water will kill ticks. Check children and pets carefully. Checking for ticks and prompt removal of attached ticks is probably the most important and effective method of preventing infection! Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it. Take tweezers and remove the tick close to the skin insertion site and clean the site with soap and water. Mark the date on your calendar and note the tick encounter, since signs of illness may not develop until a week or two later. If you do develop signs of illness such as fever, fatigue, headache, or muscle aches, see your medical provider right away, as many illnesses are easily treated early on. Be sure to inform your provider of your tick exposure.

Types of Ticks in Nebraska

South-Central Nebraska has 2 common ticks of concern: the Lone Star Tick and the American Dog tick (wood tick). There are several other species of ticks in Nebraska but they have only been established on the borders of the state. Such as the Blacklegged Tick (deer tick) in the Eastern part of the state and the Rocky Mountain wood tick in the upper west corner of the state. Lastly there is the Brown dog tick which can be found worldwide. Although they prefer dogs, they may also bite humans or other mammals. If one happens to come across a tick and wants to know what kind of tick it is, Nebraska has a tick identification program called Tick Tag Go. One can take a picture and submit it to the website. It’s a great community-powered effort to establish tick distributions in Nebraska.

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