Saturday, March 12, 2011

Don't Let Ticks Take You For A Ride

As your family and pets enjoy the great outdoors this season, be careful to protect yourselves from bloodsuckers looking to take you for a ride. Ticks are parasitic insects that survive on the blood of other animals and can transmit disease. They are found in heavily vegetated areas throughout the world and especially in the northeastern United States. Tall grass and shrubbery in these areas provide ticks with access to passing animals and humans. According to experts at Orkin, ticks don't need to feed very often; adults can survive for three years without a meal. When they do feed, however, the effects can be severe for their hosts. Lyme disease is among the most threatening infections ticks spread. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the U.S. Deer ticks obtain the Lyme disease bacterium from the blood of white-footed mice and white-tailed deer. Most human cases of Lyme disease are reported in the spring and summer months, when both tiny nymphal ticks and people are most active outdoors. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can carry diseases such as Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. "Because of the health concerns ticks create, tick prevention and treatment should be taken seriously," says Orkin, Inc. entomologist Ron Harrison, Ph.D. "Vigilance can be your most effective weapon against tick bites." Experts recommend the following tick tips: • Carefully check your entire body and your pets promptly after being outdoors. Remember that young ticks can be very small. • When outdoors, wear repellent and long sleeves, pants and socks to protect exposed skin. Light-colored clothing will help you spot them more easily. • Reduce tick populations by clearing shrubbery and mowing grasses. Separate play and wooded areas with a protective mulch boundary. • If you find a tick attached to your skin, use fine-tipped tweezers to remove it below the head. Contact a physician if signs of an infection, such as fever or rash, appear. If you suspect a tick problem around your home, contact a licensed pest management professional to identify and treat infested areas.

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