Ticks are not a welcome sign of spring

May 11, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary, High School, Middle Years

Experts say a warm winter with no deep freezes and an unusually warm spring mean ticks will appear earlier – and seemingly in greater volume – than normal this year. If your kids are spending more time outdoors, playing sports or just horsing around, it’s important to be vigilant about checking for ticks.

These small parasites aren’t only a nuisance – they’re also a danger as they can transmit at least 12 diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Probably the most well-known of these, lyme disease, is caused by the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash often referred to as a “bull’s eye” due to its round, target-like appearance; however, a bull’s eye appears in fewer than 10 percent of cases. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Ticks can be so small they’re hard to spot until they’ve already bitten you. If you are bitten, remove the tick from your skin as soon as possible. For tips, see the CDC website on removing a tick.

Experts also recommend marking the date on the calendar and watching for symptoms for the next several weeks.

The best way to deal with ticks this season? Avoid them.

Avoiding tick bites

(From the CDC website)

  • Wear light-colored clothing to help you spot ticks that may latch on to you.
  • Tuck pants into socks to keep ticks off your legs.

Apply EPA-approved repellents to discourage tick attachment. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on shoes and clothing and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to skin, but must be reapplied every few hours. Follow label instructions for repellents.

  • Search your entire body for ticks upon return from a potentially tick-infested area. Remove any tick you find on your body; grasp with tweezers and pull straight back if the tick is attached.
  • Check children for ticks, especially in their hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas.
  • Ticks may also be carried into your home on clothing and pets, so examine both carefully.
  • Reduce tick habitats around your home by removing leaf litter and brush.

Additional resources

For more information on ticks, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/ticks.

There’s also helpful information about lyme disease at natureforkids.net


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