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With some nice summer weather finally rolling in people will be spending more time in their yards. It is important to remember that this is the time of the year people most commonly come in contact with ticks. While there are a few different species of ticks commonly found in our area, the presence of the blacklegged (deer tick) is of most concern. This species of tick is capable of transmitting 3 different types of diseases affecting humans: 1) lyme disease 2) babesiosis and 3) anaplasmosis. The young, nymphal-stage blacklegged ticks present now are small and difficult to see. To avoid having deer ticks put a damper on your summer follow some common sense practices. These include 1) avoiding the habitat in which they exist when possible 2) dress appropriately for yard work and use, 3) control where your pets frequent 4) treat any areas of the yard where ticks have a high potential to inhabit 5) routinely check yourself, others and pets for the presence of ticks and 6) be aware of the type of symptomology associated with each of the diseases that can be carried and spread by the blacklegged tick.
Blacklegged tick habitat include any shaded type area that will produce an environment where there is higher humidity such as wooded areas and borders with leaf duff, weeds or undergrowth, stone walls, wood piles and planted landscape areas. If you need to interface with these types of environments dress with pants (not shorts), wear long-sleeved shirts when possible, tuck your pant legs inside your socks and wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin to discourage tick attachment. Pets can often ferry ticks from outdoor areas to close contact with humans. Limiting exposure of your pets to areas frequented by blacklegged ticks and treating them to help protect them from tick bites can help reduce both human and pet tick contact. Treating potential tick-infested areas of the property with a high pressure sprayer for hard-to-penetrate habitat can help avoid contact. Replacing or protecting plants frequently browsed by deer may help limit the transfer of blacklegged ticks by reducing the time deer, that often carry the ticks from one area to another, spend in your yard. Remove clothing as soon as possible when working or traveling in areas of potential tick populations. Wash and run clothes through a dryer to desiccate them. Check yourself, family members and pets after each potential exposure. Familiarization with the symptomology associated with the diseases potentially carried by blacklegged ticks can help avoid serious health side affects through quick remediation. While rashes are commonly associated with lyme disease, the absence of a rash does not preclude possible babesiosis or anaplasmosis infection.
For further information on ticks including identification features, protection tips, disease symptomology and informational videos visit http://www.tickencounter.org/