Get TickSmart! Tick safety for May
Deer ticks, American dog ticks, Lone Star ticks…All species of ticks come in small (larvae), medium (nymphs), and large (adults) sizes. The larvae rarely carry germs, and the adult stage ticks are easier to see, even when attached. But it’s the nymph stage ticks, especially nymphal deer ticks and nymphal Lone Star ticks that are the most dangerous—they’re LOADED with germs, they’re just hard to find once they attach, and MAY IS THE MONTH that they start to become active.
To prevent tick bites and tickborne disease, post-job it’s really important to know where to look and what to look for. It’s also important to take just a few simple pre-job precautions to keep ticks from biting. Read on to learn how to stay TickSafe on the job, and at home.
The two most commonly encountered nymph stage ticks are nymphal deer ticks and Lone Star ticks. Nymphal deer ticks carry the germs causing Lyme disease, babesiosis (ba-bēz-iosis), anaplasmosis, and also a relapsing fever-like bacterial disease. About 1 in 4 of these ticks are likely carrying at least one type of disease-causing germs. Sometimes the same tick can be carrying 2 or even 3 different types of germs. Nymph stage Lone Star ticks are especially abundant on Long Island, and they carry the germ causing human ehrlichiosis (air-lick-iosis). About 1 in 10 of these ticks are carriers. All of these diseases can be quite serious–even deadly–so preventing bites, promptly finding and removing any attached ticks, and correctly identifying the type of tick are all important actions you should know how to take.
Nymph ticks are the size of poppy seeds when they first attach, and they almost always attach below the belt-line, wherever clothing bunches up, like behind the knees, underwear lines, even on your private parts (and no one wants a tick bite there). AT LEAST ONCE EVERY DAY, you’ve got to LEAN OVER AND LOOK, especially after you’ve taken your clothes off; look for something the size of a poppy seed but with 8 legs.
Nymph ticks usually latch on low (shoe or cuff level) and climb up. An easy way to prevent nymph ticks from biting is to make sure your shoes and socks are treated with permethrin-based clothing repellents. Spray shoes at least once every month (May, June, July and August); wet the shoes thoroughly with the spray and let them dry overnight. They should be good to go in the morning. Wearing permethrin-treated socks and pants is another easy and effective way to prevent nymphal tick bites.
IN MAY AND JUNE, IT’S THE TICKS YOU DON’T SEE THAT ARE MOST DANGEROUS.
(Picture legend: Nymph stage deer ticks (left) and Lone Star ticks (right). Lone Star ticks look more rounded than the tear drop-shaped deer ticks, both the bodies and the scutum, even when partially engorged. If you need help identifying your tick, send clear pictures to TickSpotters (www.TickEncounter.org/tickspotters).
For more TickSmart information, visit www.tickencounter.org
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In case you missed it, read the April TickSmart article.