Ticks Suck

There are more than 400,000 new cases of Lyme Disease in the U.S. each year. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks carry many other bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Prevention and proper management of a tick bite can drastically reduce potentially severe illnesses.

tick on skin
family on hike

Ticks that cause Lyme disease and other infections are present in many parts of the world, in most states in the USA.  According to the California Department of Public Health, these ticks have also been found in 56/58 of California counties.

High-risk activities include:

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Golfing
  • Mountain Biking
  • Horseback Riding

Tick Bite Prevention

Understand where the ticks are. Ticks search for a meal or “quest” on the leaves and grasses. Stick to wider trails, stay towards the center of the trail, and avoid brushing through grasses.

Wear light colored clothes with long sleeve shirts, long pants, and tuck your pants into your socks.

You can use safe tick repellents like permethrin to treat clothing, tents, sleeping bags, picnic blankets, etc, to help lower the risk of a tick climbing onto your body. This chrysanthemum based product is safe for use and can be sprayed on, or you can also have your clothing professionally treated or purchase clothes that have been treated. 

Other effective repellent products include:

  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Nootkatone from Cypress trees and grapefruit
  • Picaridin
  • IR3535
  • DEET containing products are also effective but are more toxic so we recommend using these more sparingly and for extreme exposure situations

When returning from being outdoors in tick endemic areas (which can also include city parks and lawns at home), change your clothes and put the used clothes in the dryer on high for at least 20 min. Shower and tick check carefully.

tick on finger tip
tick bite locations to check

Tick Check

Check your children and partner thoroughly for ticks, and have someone check you, including behind the ears, under finger and toenails, belly button, groin, hairline, axilla, etc.

Check your children before bed nightly if they have been playing outside.

Nymph ticks are literally poppy seed-sized and frequently one cannot tell that it is a tick without a magnifying device. Your smartphone can be used as a magnifier which can be very helpful.

In California, the tiny nymph ticks are the highest risk for transmission of the Borrelia bacteria. The tiny size of this tick means that you have to be extra careful and thorough when performing tick checks in order to be safe.

It is also important to be careful with pets as vectors as they can bring ticks into the house.

Tick Removal Steps in Case of Bite

Once you have identified that a tick bite has occurred it is very important to understand proper tick removal technique.

Having the right tweezers on hand is critical. We recommend purchasing several of the TickEase tweezers to have at home, in your car, and in your backpack when hiking/camping. These are very well designed with an extremely fine tip specifically for tick removal.

tick removal step 1

Insert the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pinch off the mouth parts of the tick.

Step 1

tick removal step 2

Gently lift perpendicular to where the tick is attached.

Step 2

tick removal step 3

Provide traction and wait for the tick to release, this can take a few minutes if well attached.

Step 3

tick removal step 4

Do not squeeze the body, twist, burn, put on oil as this can increase the risk of infection as the tick might regurgitate its stomach contents into the bite area.

Important!

tick removal step 5

Once removed, place tick in a Ziploc bag with a moist paper towel. Try to identify the tick using Rhode Island Tick Encounter. Test the tick for pathogens with a service like TickReport

Identify and test.

Knowing the type of tick can help your doctor know which pathogens might be present and help make decisions on whether or not to treat you while waiting for the results of the tick testing. Info on the type of tick can also be helpful if the tick was lost and not able to be tested.

Tick recognition chart
tick on human skin

Tick Pathogen Testing

It is important to understand that sometimes tick identification will be easy based on the features present, and sometimes it will be very hard and require an expert to identify the tick. 

Testing is particularly important with ticks that may transmit the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, as early treatment can make a big difference in outcomes and preventing chronic infection.

Tick Report is a comprehensive service run by the University of Massachusetts that identifies what disease causing microbes your tick may be carrying. They offer accurate reporting, basic and expanded panels of tests for different bugs, and the turnaround time is approximately 3 business days.

After a tick bite, watch for any unusual symptoms like skin rash, stiff neck, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, or flu-like symptoms. Consult a doctor knowledgeable in tickborne illnesses for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Lyme Disease FAQ

 

 

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