Springtime is here and in a blink of an eye the summer travel season will be among us. Did you know that in every part of the United States there is a chance of encountering some species of tick? In some areas, there are several species that you must keep a lookout for.
Ticks are dangerous insects because of the pathogens that they transmit to both humans and pets. Ticks to watch out for in the United States are:
• American dog tick
• Brown dog tick
• Gulf Coast tick
• Lone star tick
• Rocky Mountain wood tick
• Western blacklegged tick
Adult ticks of all species are the easiest to see, especially once they are engorged. It is important to know the proper way to remove a tick so that you can limit your chances of disease transmission.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, the CDC recommends that you use fine tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin where it is attached. The goal is to remove the entire tick, with the mouthpart intact. To achieve this, steadily pull the tick upward with even pressure. Be careful not to twist the tick or you will leave the mouthpart under the skin. After the tick is removed, place it in a jar of alcohol in case it needs testing at a later date. Clean the bite area with alcohol or an antiseptic wash and watch for any unusual signs of illness.
It is important to keep any tick specimen that is collected for at least a month after it is dislodged from either a human or a pet. The current recommendation is to keep the tick soaking in alcohol in a jar with a screw off lid. Keep in mind that immature ticks may look different than adult ticks do, and males and females of the same species may also look different as well.