(BPT) - If you think ticks are a concern only in the deep woods, it’s time to think again. Partially due to migrating deer populations, ticks are now abundant in suburban and city backyards – and they're spreading disease. In fact, an estimated 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme disease each year, according to estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other types of diseases.
“Tick-borne illness is the fastest-growing infectious disease concern in the U.S.,” says Dan Wolff, wildlife conservation specialist, tick expert and creator of TickEase tick-removal tweezers. “To protect both the people and the pets you love, it’s important to take preventive steps and know what to do if a tick bite occurs.”
Living with two sons and two dogs in Eastern Massachusetts – an area with a high tick population – Wolff is no stranger to the dangers of ticks. He takes these steps when heading outdoors with his family:
Tuck pant cuffs
For hikes or romps in the woods, tuck pant legs into your socks to prevent ticks from reaching your skin. Remember that ticks do not fly or jump from trees; they are on the ground and crawl upward.
Make clothing tick-repellent
During high tick season, which occurs from May to November in much of the U.S., it’s best to treat your clothes with tick repellant. Look for clothing-only sprays with permethrin to kill ticks on contact.
Because it’s best to remove ticks before they attach, it’s important to check for them daily. Keep in mind that ticks like constricted places, so be sure to check all over and focus specifically on locations like the underarms, under the knees and around waistbands.
Be proactive for pets
Protect your furry family members by asking your vet about proper vaccination and treatment for pets. For example, there are immunizations and topical treatments for dogs.
“If you find a tick has attached to you, a family member or your pet, remember that prompt and proper removal is the key to reducing the risk of being infected with Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses,” says Wolff.
Quick action can make a big difference. For the majority of tick-borne diseases, you have 24 hours to find and remove an attached tick before it transmits an infection, according to the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center.
If you find an attached tick, you can easily remove it with TickEase, which is a specially designed dual-sided stainless steel tick tweezers. You can use the thin-sided tip to remove small ticks by grasping the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pulling upward with even pressure. Use the slotted scoop on the other side to remove larger ticks on pets by placing the slot against the skin and lifting it off with steady pressure. To learn more, visit www.BuyTickEase.com.
After removing the tick from a person or pet, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. If fever or rash develop within several weeks of removing the tick, visit a doctor.
“Avoid folk remedies for removing a tick,” stresses Wolff. “For example, smothering the tick in petroleum jelly won’t likely work and it wastes time. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible to prevent disease and discomfort.”