Deer tick, American dog tick, pigeon tick, ornate cow tick.
Forrest Gump would be able to shoot a whole scene about the different kinds of ticks there are. As the weather warms up, nature draws out the masses for hiking, fishing, mushroom hunting and frolics in fields of wildflowers. Sadly, all those activities take place in tick haven.
In the areas surrounding southern Indiana and western Kentucky, the American dog, lone star, and the blacklegged tick are in the highest number. Whereas the American dog is the most common, the black-legged is the one to keep an eye on. Better known as the “deer tick”, they are small (3-5mm) and brownish-red little demons that will burrow into the creases and curves of your body if you aren’t careful.
While there are many diseases that ticks carry; ours hold Lyme disease, Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrilchiosis. The symptoms for these diseases vary from rashes (a bulls-eye pattern rash for Lyme disease), fevers/chills, headaches and joint pain. More severely, one could have an allergic reaction causing anaphylaxis or tick paralysis creating the inability to move and irregular heart rhythms.
These sound scary, but the chances of contracting any of them are very low.
To contract Lyme disease, a tick must be attached for 36 hours. The Centers for Disease Control only report an average of 30,000 cases per year and state that roughly 1.2-1.4 percent of ticks in “infected areas” carry the disease.
Locally, according to Evansville’s Deaconess Microbiology Lab, only 27 cases of tick-borne Lyme disease were reported in 2017 and with another 10 so far in 2018.
According to Deaconess, “Testing for Lyme has a poor sensitively rate. The numbers aren’t true of the rates. You can be diagnosed with Lyme disease by the symptoms or testing. These numbers are just the blood testing.”
Instead of being fearful every time you step foot outside, there are some easy steps you can take to prevent and get rid of ticks.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources suggests three simple rules.
— Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants.
— Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks.
— Use insect repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin.
If you do find a tick on you or one of your family members, the first thing to do is to remove the entire tick. It’s extremely important to remove the entire tick and not leave the head embedded in the skin. An old wives’ tales could send you running for matches, whiskey or petroleum jelly. But really all you need is a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible (including the head of the tick) and pull steadily away from your skin. Be sure to clean the bite afterward with rubbing alcohol.
As tempting as it is to burn the tick or flush it down the toilet, the DNR advises saving the tick in a jar for a couple weeks to be sure you don’t begin to show any symptoms, such as fevers or a rash surrounding the bite. If you do begin to show symptoms, take the tick to your doctor for testing.