Volume 7, Issue 1
Ticks, the Uninvited Guest
Many of us spend the majority of our time participating in outdoor activities. While we are enjoying these outdoor activities, ticks can become an unwelcomed guest. A western black-legged tick is common in California and is known to spread certain diseases such as Lyme disease. Ticks are small Arachnids (a kind of animal that has eight legs and a body formed of two parts) which require a blood meal to complete their lifecycle.
Ticks bite many different animals and humans and their victim becomes a host. Both males and females feed on blood; however, the female takes in the largest amount of blood, which is used to nourish eggs (sometimes over 1,000!). After taking her blood meal, the female drops off from the host and deposits her eggs on the ground.
Ticks are often found in places where people hike, play, work or live. If you plan on visiting areas where ticks may be present, there are things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wear Light colored clothing.
- Wear Long sleeves and pants.
- Use an insect repellent made specifically for ticks.
- If you are hiking, stay in the center of the trail whenever possible!
- Check yourself and the people you are with often for ticks, they may be hiding in clothing.
- Take a shower! Showering is a good way to check your entire body for any unwanted
8-legged “hitch hikers”.
Even if you are careful, there is still a chance that you may be bitten by a tick; if this happens don’t panic. Follow these steps to remove it:
- Grasp the tick with tweezers or a tissue as close to your skin as possible (never with your bare hands).
- DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE the tick BY BURNING it, OR BY APPLYING VASELINE.
- Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after removing the tick, then apply an antiseptic to the bite site.
Consult your physician if the tick cannot be removed, part of it is left in the skin, or if you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms within 30 days of the tick bite. For more information about ticks, please visit the CDC’s website on ticks.
Lyme disease was named after Old Lyme, Connecticut. The first case of Lyme disease was reported in California in 1978, and is the most common tick-borne disease in California, and the United States. Lyme disease is a preventable bacterial disease that is transmitted to humans and animals from the bite of the infected western black-legged tick.
Typical symptoms of Lyme disease may include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic rash called erythema migrans (also known as the “bulls-eye” rash). If Lyme disease is left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and the nervous system. Your physician will diagnose Lyme disease based on physical symptoms (i.e. rash, tick bite), and laboratory testing. Lyme disease can be cured by early diagnosis and proper antibiotic treatment, but it may persist in the human body for years if not properly treated. To avoid Lyme disease, follow the procedures in the above article.
For more information about Lyme disease, please view here.
Did you know that rodent control in and around your home is the best way to prevent Hantavirus? Hantavirus infection can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a rare but severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease in humans. People become infected through contact with hantavirus-infected rodents, their urine, saliva or droppings. The virus is mainly transmitted to people when they breathe in contaminated air with the virus. The types of Hantavirus that cause HPS in the United States cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Anyone who comes in contact with rodents that carry Hantavirus is at risk of HPS. Deer mice, cotton rats, rice rats, and white footed mice are known to carry Hantavirus, so make sure to keep these rodents away from your home! For more information please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for Hantavirus.