The Importance Of Checking For Ticks
There are four species of tick that are common pests for dogs, cats, and people in our service area. They are the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, the Lone Star tick and the blacklegged tick (also referred to as a deer tick). Each of these ticks has a long list of diseases associated with it. Some of the many diseases spread by these ticks are ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tularemia, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), Heartland virus, Powassan disease and anaplasmosis.
There are two stages of tick-borne illness: acute and chronic. In the acute stage, all of the diseases spread by ticks can be cured. In the chronic stage, some cannot be cured and can lead to lifelong health complications. Lyme disease, as an example, can cause ongoing headaches, fatigue, rashes, nerve pain, encephalitis, memory problems, stiffness, irregular heartbeat, heart diseases, arthritis, and more. Much more. In its chronic stage, Powassan disease can move into the central nervous system and cause a lot of damage. This can lead to a swelling of the brain and spinal cord, confusion, speech problems, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and seizures, to name just a few of the symptoms.
Checking for Ticks
Doing routine checks for ticks can protect you, your family, and your pets in two important ways. Since we've already touched on acute and chronic stages of tick-borne illness, let's start with these. If you get sick and don't realize that your sickness is related to a tick bite, your physician will not be able to properly treat you. The diseases spread by ticks share symptoms with many illnesses. In fact, Lyme disease is often called the great imitator because it shares symptoms with fibromyalgia, MS, ALS, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and as many as 350 other diseases. It is an understatement to say that it is difficult for doctors to properly diagnose Lyme without your testimony of being bitten.
Some diseases that are spread by ticks can be prevented by quick and proper removal. For instance, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease to occur in humans takes 24 to 48 hours to transfer from tick to human.
If you find a tick on you, refrain from pinching it and pulling it off, no matter how badly you want to. Squeezing the tick can cause bacteria-causing organisms to inject into the wound. Use a tick removal tool or a pair of needle-nosed tweezers. Pinch the tick as close to the head of the tick as possible. Pull down and away from your skin.
Checking Your Pets
When ticks get on dogs and cats they tend to attach in the ears or between the toes. These are good places to search first. If you find a tick that has been feeding, it will be engorged. Keep this in mind. An engorged tick looks a lot different than a tick that has not had a blood meal. Once you've checked the ears and toes, comb your fingers through your pet's fur and feel for bumps (obviously this does not pertain to shorthaired dogs and cats). Use the removal tip above to get ticks off your pet.
For Added Protection
Along with routine checks, it is important to consider adding tick reduction to your residential pest control plan. The fewer ticks you have in your yard, the lower your risk of tick-borne diseases will be. You also get the added benefits of mosquito control. The products we use to eliminate ticks works for the control of mosquitoes as well. It's a win-win.
Tick Disease on the Rise
According to the CDC, Lyme disease more than doubled from 2004 to 2016. The best way to meet this growing threat is with education and tick-reduction service. In terms of education, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid tall grass and vegetation when you are outside.
- Consider spraying mosquito repellent on your feet and legs to prevent ticks from crawling up.
- Wear tall boots or tuck your pants into your socks if you'll be in areas where ticks are common.
- Get tick collars for your pets.
- Keep your foundation perimeter as dry as possible.
- Be aware that mice and rats bring ticks into homes and take measures to keep them out.
As for tick-reduction service, if you're in our Maryland, D.C. or Northern Virginia service area, reach out to American Pest. Our team of highly-trained and fully-certified pest management professionals is standing by to assist you with this important service.
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