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7 Things Everyone Should Know About TICKS

Protect yourself and your pets with these top tick tips.

All ticks come in small, medium and
large sizes.

Ticks have four main life stages: eggs (the smallest
size), larvae (equivalent to a grain of sand) nymphs (the
medium size, about the size of a poppy seed) and adults
(the largest size, about the size of an apple seed).

Ticks crawl up.
Ticks live on the ground no matter the locale. They typically
crawl up from grass blades onto a host and migrate
upward, which is why they’re often found on the scalp—
they want to feed around the head, neck, and ears of
their host, where the skin is thinner.

Cold and snowy? No big deal.
Yup, winter doesn’t bother certain tick species. In fact,
adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the
first frost. While some ticks go dormant, deer ticks will
be active any winter day that the ground is not snowcovered
or frozen. This surprises people, especially
during a January thaw or early spring day.

Ticks carry disease-causing microbes
Tick-transmitted infections are more common these
days than in past decades. With explosive increases in
deer populations, the trend is increasing abundance and
geographic spread of deer ticks and lone star ticks; and
scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of diseasecausing
microbes transmitted by these ticks. Tick bites
used to be an annoyance, but now a bite is much more
likely to make you sick.

If you (or your dog, cat or horse) are
bitten, you probably won’t know it.

This is super creepy, but tick bites are painless (ticks’ saliva
has anesthetic properties) and hosts generally don’t
feel it. What’s worse: fewer than half of people who’ve
been infected with Lyme disease show the “bull’s-eye
rash” that was once thought to be a telltale sign of the
disease. If you start showing flulike symptoms in the
middle of summer (fever, chills, aches, and pains are
common symptoms of a variety of tick-borne diseases),
go to the doctor and ask to be tested for the illnesses
associated with ticks. This is also why it’s essential to
keep a close eye on your pet and check for ticks after it
spends time outdoors.

The easiest way to remove a tick is
with pointed tweezers.

Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it
too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed
to the front end. Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible
to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right
down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the
tick out like a splinter. Other tick removal methods, like
a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap and cotton, or various
little key-like devices don’t work, so don’t bother trying.
And your safest bet is going to a doctor or veterinarian
for removal.

Tick bites and tick-borne diseases
are 100% preventable.

There’s really only one way to become infected with a
tick-transmitted disease, and that’s from a tick bite. Taking
steps to protect yourself (with tick-repellent clothing
or spraying tick repellent on clothing) and your pets
(with year-round preventive medication and regular
tick checks) especially if you spend any time outdoors
will drastically reduce your risk of developing tick-borne
diseases. Remember, just one bite is all it takes to make
you or your pet sick—so prevention is your best bet.