By: Rich Adams
Tips to Avoid Disease-Carrying Ticks
With the arrival of spring weather, outdoor activity increases, as does the risk of encountering ticks.
One type of tick can cause health issues when it comes in contact with humans. The blacklegged tick – which carries Lyme disease – is becoming more prevalent in Michigan, and with the increased presence of the insect is a heightened threat of contracting the disease.
The incidence of Lyme disease in the Great Lakes Bay region is scant. Bay and Saginaw counties were listed as having a potential risk of contracting tick-borne Lyme disease in 2016, and that risk was limited to just Bay County in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 map.
Five types of ticks are common in Michigan, but only the blacklegged – or deer – tick has potential to spread Lyme disease.
Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals’ breath and body odors or by sensing body heat, moisture and vibrations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs. They hold their legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a person or dog brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly, and others will wander, looking for places like the ear or other areas where the skin is thinner.
If you find a tick on your body or on your pet, you can remove it following the instructions found at cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html.
The Lyme Disease Association said signs that you might have contracted Lyme disease include:
- Flu-like illness
- Extreme fatigue
- A “bull’s-eye” rash, or other rashes
- A red flush high on the cheeks or red ear lobes
- Jaw pain
- Joint pain and swelling
See your health care provider if you have those symptoms.
To prevent ticks from attaching themselves in the first place, the Department of Health and Human Services offers the following tips:
- Use insect repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET.
- Use repellents on clothing that contain permethrin.
- After spending time outdoors, check your skin and clothes for ticks.