It’s the very merry month of May and it is filled with countless fun activities that greatly involve the outdoors, a pair of shorts and those light snickers you’ve been waiting to take out since October. And while this sounds extremely fun, you have to take five minutes to be safe because tick season is on.
A silent danger is lurking in the grass out there and you would better be careful because ticks mean serious business. It is extremely important that you know how to keep safe from these small critters and what to do if you happen to find one on yourself or your pets.
May is the start of tick season, but also one of the most prolific times for the small arachnids. This is why May has been declared by the CDC as the Lyme Disease awareness month, as 300,000 cases of this tick-borne disease are encountered every year.
There are very many species of ticks out there, specific to the places they inhabit and the animals they feed on, but quite a few of them are dangerous to humans.
Ticks lay on the edge of grass blades or other types of leafy vegetation with their forelegs hanging in the air, ready to grab onto their new host, who just might be you if you’re not careful.
When they find a host, their objectives are to stay on it and to find a big juicy blood vessel to feel on. This is why most of the time, you will find them in places with significant blood flow.
When they do find a suitable vessel, they will start feeding by penetrating the skin and releasing a adhesive substance that will keep them in constant contact with their food source. While they feed, they release a small amount of saliva and this is how most of the diseases are transmitted.
Firstly, if you find a tick on yourself it is very important that you not panic and get to the nearest hospital, so that a medical professional can take it out. It is not advisable that you try to take it out yourself, if you have the option of going to a hospital.
In most cases when people take ticks out on their own, the mouth part remains inside the skin and causes an aggressive allergic reaction.
If you have no chance of getting to the hospital in a few hours after spotting the tick, then it is better that you take it out and risk getting the allergic reaction rather than keep it for a long period of time.
What you have to do is get some rubbing alcohol, put a generous amount of it on a cotton disc and then cover the tick with it. You have to leave the alcohol-soaked cotton disk for at least 10-15 minutes and keep adding alcohol so as to make the tick dizzy and numb.
This is a crucial step, because this is when it starts to retract its mouthparts from the skin. Then, you can take a pair of tweezers and very gently grab the tick from the part closest to the skin and pull very lightly lightly.
You will have to take it out step by step, as you feel the mouthpart getting further and further out. After taking it out, put some more disinfectant on the bite site, add a bandage and go to the hospital as soon as possible.
It is of the utmost importance that you go see a doctor if you find a tick on you because you need to be assessed, monitored over the following period and tested for tick-borne diseases.
The sooner you get to the doctor, the faster he can start treating you, so do not take tick bites lightly.
Aside from the local pain and the swelling of the skin around the bite, people might experience fever, lightheadedness and fatigue. These flu-like symptoms are associated with the early onset of several tick-borne diseases.
In case you find them on your pets, it is also very important to take them to a veterinary office, since they can get very sick form tick bites as well. Diseases like Babesiosis can easily kill dogs if left untreated.
But probably the most important thing that you can do this time of year is to protect yourself from ticks. And the best of doing that is to secure the parts of your body that might come into contact with grass.
You can do this by not walking barefoot on the grass, and by wearing long trousers when you go to vegetation filled places like forests. It doesn’t sound very attractive but it is the safest course of action.
However, if you cannot resist putting on that pair of shorts, you could try spraying repellent sprays on your legs. These are non-toxic products, usually made from cinnamon or other strong smelling condiments that will make the tick think again before hitching a ride with you.
It is crucial that you know how to defend yourself against these small critters because scientists are announcing a high tick presence in 2015, due to climate change and the tick’s amazing adaptation abilities. So, keep in mind that tick season is on and that it’s going to be a massive one this year.
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