Tick tips: How to handle the biting disease vectors

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Tis the season for ticks, and they can be found anywhere in the Capital Region.

“Unfortunately, ticks aren’t taking a break just because we’re all occupied with COVID-19,” warns Christina Fisk, President of the Lyme Action Network, said in a statement on Thursday. “The ticks are out in force. Nymph ticks have been biting voraciously all spring, and we can now expect the adult ticks to emerge soon.”

Ticks ignore social distancing guidelines, spreading Lyme and other diseases. The blood-suckers are hungry, ready to drop or latch onto unsuspecting passersby from the high grass, in leaf litter, or behind your pet’s ear. They live in yards, woods, trails, and feeds.

“Having more than one pathogen transferred in a single tick-bite is a common occurrence,” said Fisk. “Being aware and investing in preventive measures is well worth the effort” so you do not contract diseases like Lyme, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus, or bartonellosis.

Seek immediate medical attention after being bitten if you show symptoms like a rash, fatigue, joint pain, or flu-like symptoms. Treatment may not be as effective if you wait. There is no safe window between being bitten and removing the tick, as some tick-borne illnesses can be transmitted within 15 minutes.

Fisk’s Lyme Action Network recommends the following to help avoid and handle the little buggers:

  • Use tick repellants like DEET or a natural product like Buzz-Away Extreme for your skin
  • Use permethrin spray on your clothing
  • Tuck pant legs into socks so they can’t crawl up your legs
  • Wear light-colored clothing so you can see any ticks clearly
  • Do frequent tick checks
  • Put your clothes in a hot dryer for 15 minutes before washing to kill unseen ticks
  • Remove an attached tick immediately:
    • Buy needlenose tweezers or a tick twister when you do not need it, and carry it with you
    • If bitten, position your tool as close to your skin as you can
    • Forcefully lift straight up
    • Do not traumatize by squeezing, burning, or covering the tick
    • Trauma can cause the tick to regurgitate into your skin and infect you
    • Save the tick that bit you in a sealed plastic bag

You can send the tick to a lab that will analyze it and diagnose and communicable diseases.

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