OUTDOORS: Preventing ticks is best solution

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Outdoor Tales

By Phil Junker

Ticks just won’t go away. The little, nasty creatures continue to be a growing problem, and in a few cases, more than just an annoyance.

For the most part, they are just a pesky nuisance, but caution is in order as they can cause serious health problems.

I’m a bit reluctant to write about tick problems, as I fear it will keep some people out of the woods. It is true, some ticks carry Lyme disease as well as others. However, the outdoors can be enjoyed in tick territory, if proper care and precautions are taken.

There are hundreds of species of ticks, but only a few that really bother people. And of course, those are the ones to be concerned about. Among those, one of the most pesky around these parts are called deer ticks. Some people call them turkey ticks, and others call them bear ticks or some unprintable bad word. I call them deer ticks.

People often think the number of ticks expands during a mild winter, and their numbers are reduced by really cold weather. However, research reveals it is almost impossible to freeze out the tiny pests.

Dick Gadd, president of SCS Limited, a company that specializes in tick and other pest repellent, says ticks bore into decaying leaves, and can withstand prolonged periods of sub-zero cold. He says what does relate to their increasing numbers is moisture. Damp weather benefits tick productivity far more than a mild winter. So this spring has been ideal for ticks and bad for people.

In order for a person to become ill, a person has to be bitten by an infected tick (only a very small percentage of ticks are infected). It also is believed the tick must be attached to a person for 24 hours. A little prevention can eliminate the bites.

According to Yahoo’s health website, not everyone infected with these Lyme disease bacteria gets ill. If a person does become ill, the first symptoms resemble the flu. There may be a “bull’s eye” rash, a flat or slightly raised red spot at the site of the tick bite. Often there is a clear area in the center. It can be larger than one to three inches wide.

People usually think of finding ticks in the woods, but they are just as likely to be found in tall grass. Make a special effort to avoid tall grass, and around your home, keep the grass mowed.

Repellents are effective in keeping ticks away from any exposed skin, and DEET has been the best bet for years. However a new product developed in Europe and Australia was introduced in the U.S. about five years ago.

Picaridin is an effective alternative to DEET that provides long-lasting protection. It was developed not only to repel insects, but to offer a pleasant-to-use product that offered a light, clean feeling and odorless repellent. It can be found in several commercial products.

“As with any of the repellents we offer, Picaridin should be used as part of an insect repellent system,” Gadd said. “We strongly recommend the use of permethrin treatment for your clothing and a topical skin repellent such as picaridin on exposed skin.”

After leaving a grassy or wooded area, you should check for ticks on your clothing or skin. If a tick is attached to your skin, it can be removed with either tweezers or forceps by grasping the insect as close to the skin as possible. Try to remove the head of the tick.

Ticks should not be removed with your bare fingers, but if tweezers or forceps are not available, you can use tissue paper or a paper towel to prevent the passing of any possible infection.

I use a tool called a Pro Tick Remedy remover. I keep one hanging on the side of the refrigerator along with family pictures, doctor appointment reminders, and my wife’s “To Do” lists. The tick puller comes with a small magnifying glass and information to help determine whether or not the tick is a dangerous type.

It is available from SCS Limited, which has a very good website with pictures and information about ticks and other insect pests, how to prevent them, and much more. The site is: www.tickinfo.com. Various products and information is available at SCSLimited.com


Contact outdoors writer Phil Junker by e-mail at outdoorscribe@yahoo.com.