Tick ​​season: How to get rid of ticks and what you need to know about these bloodsuckers-Waukeshahealthinsurance.com

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You may have noticed one dragging its feet after a walk in the tall grass, or felt a sensation on your dog's back when you ran your hand through its fur. If you're unlucky, you might not find it absorbed by your blood and seeping into your skin.

Ticks are parasitic bloodsuckers capable of spreading deadly disease, and they are becoming more common. Here's what you need to know about them.

Ticks are arachnids, close cousins ​​of mites and more distant cousins ​​of spiders. are there More than 800 species of ticks have been found around the world, and 84 were registered in the United States. However, only a few in America bite and transmit disease to humans. The most common are black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks, but they feed on many animals besides deer), lone star ticks, American dog ticks, and brown dog ticks.

A tick goes through three life stages after the egg hatches: larva, nymph, and adult. Both male and female ticks feed on blood by inserting their hooked, straw-like mouthparts into their host's skin (they only bite if they are females preparing to lay eggs, like mosquitoes). But female ticks drink until they swallow.

“When you see a very large, wrinkled female, that means she's laying eggs and starting the life cycle over again,” says Kate Chapman, extension educator and urban entomologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

These arachnids vary greatly in size and appearance depending on their age and how much blood they have consumed. “If you put these nymph black-legged ticks on top of a bag of poppy seeds, they'll assimilate very well,” said Dr. Thomas Mather, professor of public health entomology at the University of Rhode Island and director of the school's center. Vector-Borne Disease and TickCenter Resource Center. Meanwhile, an adult female of the same species can swell to the size of a pea.

Bites and diseases

Tick ​​bites can occur at any time of the year, although there are months when different species and life stages are more active. If you find a tick attached to you (or your pet), you should carefully remove it.

“The tip is to use a pair of T-shirts, get the mark as close to the skin as possible with the head, and pull straight,” Chapman said. “We don't want to twist it, because we can leave the mouth part deep in the skin. And we don't want to rip off the body because if you squeeze the body, the tick can recirculate more, which increases the risk of tick-borne disease.

Be careful when removing marks from your skin.  Using tomatoes, bring the mark as close to the head as possible to the skin and pull it straight.

Your impulse may be to crush the newly removed tick, but it's best to wash it with hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol and show it to a professional, or at least take a picture of it. In this way, you can identify what kind of tick it is and how often it feeds; University of Rhode Island The TickEncounter website has tools Based on color, size and geographical location.

It is important to identify ticks because certain species carry different diseases. Bacteria, viruses, and other microbes are absorbed into the bloodstream of infected hosts and can transmit pathogens with them when they bite new victims.

Black-legged ticks and nymphs, for example, often feed on white-legged mice. A bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. When a tick that feeds on one of these infected rodents feeds on a human, it can pass on that bacteria, which causes Lyme disease.

Lone star ticks, on the other hand, do not feed on white-legged mice and therefore are not carriers of Lyme. (However, they carry other pathogens, and their bites can inject sugar molecules into the bloodstream. It makes people allergic to red meat.)

in Survey conducted in September 2023Researchers have identified that certain ticks — including deer and the western black-legged tick — can become infected with the harmful bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilus before it can spread to humans and play an important role in causing anaplasmosis. Disease.

Anaplasmosis can cause severe headache, fever and chills, vomiting and fatigue. According to Cedars-Sinai.

Understanding this protein could give scientists a better understanding of how to stop the spread of disease through ticks, the study suggests. But there is still a lot of research to be done before they get there.

The diseases carried by ticks can be debilitating and even life-threatening, and the risk of contracting the disease increases the longer it is with you. Although there are some treatments, it is best to avoid getting bitten in the first place.

Various studies have suggested factors that may play a role in tick attraction, including the recent release of A The relationship between tick attraction and static electricity in the laboratory. And when ticks are attracted by cues like carbon dioxide exhaled by animals, they wait for their prey instead of actively seeking it out.

“Contrary to popular belief, they do not fall from trees. They simply sit on the edge of long grass, for example, maybe hang out somewhere and stick out their front legs. We call that a question,” Chapman said. “They wait for that host to brush by them, and so that's primarily how people get ticks. It is stuck to their legs or clothes.

Repellents containing DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus have been made. Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency To prevent ticks. However, these chemicals work differently on ticks than they do on mosquitoes.

One way to prevent tick bites is to tuck the bottoms of your pants into your socks when hiking in the wild.

For example, DEET “burns the feet of ticks, and they fall off because their feet are burned,” as opposed to interfering with ticks the way DEET harms mosquitoes. What's more, “the product doesn't burn as much once it's dry, so it doesn't last long for ticks.”

Instead, Chapman recommends covering up your skin and tucking the bottom of your pants into your socks to avoid tick bites. Ticks are also killed in half an hour in the dryer, so dispose of your clothes as soon as you get home before washing them.

Moreover, he said, “We have supported. Wearing clothes treated with permethrin – It's far more effective than bug spray, Mather said. “It inhibits nerve ticks and makes them very excited and then quickly loses their function and eventually kills them.” Depending on where you live, he said, it may also be worth investigating to get rid of ticks living in your yard.

These precautions may seem extreme, but to Mather, they are the way of the future.

Climate change may play a role In the tick, but Mazer believes that white-tailed deer are becoming more common in areas with high population density. As a result, “they're being exposed to ticks that prey on white-tailed deer,” he said.

Given the prevalence of ticks and the seriousness of the diseases they can cause, Chapman stresses that with proper precautions (for you and your pets – ask your vet about tick preventatives) you shouldn't be trapped inside your home.

“Yes, there are ticks. Yes, they can be a public health concern, but we don't want ticks to keep you indoors,” she says. You should still be able to go outside and enjoy nature, but you still have to do these ticket checks again. So take some time. Do that.

Kate Golembiewski He is a Chicago-based freelance science writer on zoology, thermodynamics, and death. She hosts the comedy talk show “Scientist Walks into a Bar”.

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