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Ticks, 2017 Worst Summer on Record for People and Pets

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2017 Worst Summer on Record for Ticks

As reported by Nancy Hinkle, a veterinary entomologist at the University of Georgia’s Department of Entomology, “We’re seeing ticks in greater numbers than we have seen in the last decade.”

With shorter, milder winters and longer, warmer summers the tick population grows. The black legged tick, also known as the “deer tick” is common in Georgia and can live longer than you might expect. During its lifespan of 2-3 years it only needs to feed three times! Contrary to popular belief, the tick spends most of its time in the leaf litter, underbrush or on grasses and plants. NOT on a host.

Ticks find their hosts by detecting human and animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Ticks can’t fly or jump, so they lay in wait in a position known as “questing”. The tick holds onto plants by its third and fourth pair of legs while holding its first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to grab on to a host as it passes by. Some ticks will quickly attach and feed, while others will crawl around looking for places where the skin is thinner such as ears, head and neck.

The problem with ticks (beyond the grossness sucking blood), is that they carry pathogens (diseases). In fact, one tick can be carrying multiple pathogens resulting in multiple symptoms after a bite. The longer a tick is attached to the host the higher the risk of transmission of pathogens.

Protect yourself and your pets!

Protecting yourself from ticks is important and simple. Plan ahead! Wear proper attire when hiking or exploring areas where ticks would be prevalent. Wear a light colored long sleeve shirt tucked into your pants and tuck your pants into your socks. Use a repellent and spray it on clothing as well as skin. Wear a hat.

Steer clear of vegetation that brushes against your body. Keep to areas that have been maintained below ankle height. Take time afterwards to shake out your clothing, shower and do a thorough check of your entire body including your scalp. Ticks are tiny so look for “new freckles”. Toss your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes on high heat to kill any hitchhiking ticks you missed.

Protecting your pets from ticks is also simple. Talk with your vet regarding monthly preventives. Maintain your yard vegetation to minimize tick population. Many  lawn companies can now spray your yard to kill fleas, ticks and mosquitos. Keep pets away from tall grassy areas. Always inspect your pet from nose to tail after outings.

Know your ticks.

Three tick species are most commonly associated with humans in Georgia: The Lone Star tick, American dog tick and Black-legged tick or Deer Tick. For information from the UGA Extension on protecting yourself from ticks click here.

If you find a tick attached to you or your pet, remove it, put it in a ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if necessary. Flush the bite are with clean, warm water. Apply a thin layer of Vaseline, lightly to the bite area. Stay alert for any rash, redness, swelling or abnormalities. You can also take a photo of the tick and send it to TickEncounter Resource Center.

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