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Guarding Against Tick-Borne Illnesses

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tick embedded in south carolina resident

With all of the reported cases of tick-borne illnesses lately, it’s hard not worry about ticks in our own backyards. Ticks aren’t just causing Lyme disease anymore, there are more than 10 different diseases that can be transmitted to humans by the blacklegged tick alone. The most common in humans are; anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Lyme and the Powassan virus. Common diseases from tick bites in cats and dogs are; Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. Protecting yourself, your family, and your pets from ticks is an important step in disease prevention. You should also know what ticks look like, where they come from, how they infect humans and pets, and most importantly, how to guard against them.

What do ticks look like?

The blacklegged tick, the one that most commonly spreads disease, is a relative of the spider. They are commonly known as the deer tick since they primarily feed on white-tailed deer and other large mammals. They have eight legs and flattened red-brown bodies. The fed adult females are the biggest at less than ¼” and the nymphs are about the size of a pin-head, making them almost impossible to detect.

Where do ticks come from?

Ticks will be most active in areas where large mammals are present, like wooded areas and forests. They will also hang out on leaves and tips of tall grasses, that allow them to meander onto a host without being detected. Pets and humans will unknowingly acquire a tick while traveling in these areas.

How do ticks spread disease?

Once a tick has chosen you as their host, their bite will be virtually painless. The female deer tick will feed for long periods of time and will burrow into its host’s skin. Commonly the tick will go for the neck or below the scalp on a human but can hide behind knees, underneath arms or anywhere else you have exposed skin. Any bodily fluid released by the tick can potentially infect its host, making careful removal of the tick essential. Early detection is also important for faster diagnoses and treatment. Some of the symptoms of tick-borne illness are bulls-eye rash, fever, headache, and muscle or joint pain.

How do you guard against tick-borne illnesses?

One of the best ways to prevent ticks and the illnesses they carry is to contact an experienced pest control company that can help you to reduce the tick population in your own backyard. Here are some other ways to guard against ticks:

  • Prevent tick bites by using an insect repellent with DEET

  • Wear light-colored long sleeves and long pants that are tucked in

  • Check for ticks after spending time outdoors, for both people and pets

  • Shower or bathe as soon as possible to find or wash off loose ticks

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers when removing a tick.  Make sure you get a firm hold on the tick and get as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward steadily, without twisting to assure removal of the entire tick including its mouth-parts. Follow by washing your hands and cleaning the area with rubbing alcohol. You should seek medical attention if you think a tick has been embedded for more than a few hours, if a bulls-eye rash appears or you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

How can Aiken Pest Control help?

If you live in or around the Aiken, South Carolina area, including the Midlands and the Central Savannah River area, you can rely on the professionals at Aiken Pest Control to help you with tick control on your property. We can evaluate your pest and tick problems and get rid of the threat that they can cause.  As a preventative against tick-borne illnesses, give Aiken Pest Control a call.

 

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