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May 21, 2017
Ticks: Awareness and How to Deal
A bumper year for ticks following a bumper year for mice (per NPR) means education and awareness when in nature to understand the problem and deal with it in a reasonable way.
I'm going to assume that everyone has seen and felt a tick crawling on them and is familiar enough with their appearance to identify them as well as the difference between a dog and deer tick, the two types found in our area. On the farm, 95% of the time I see a tick it is a dog tick, the bigger one, the one you can feel crawling on your skin and see in the mirror quite easily. Since we're in tick habitat daily on the farm we have a routine where we check ourselves nightly before bed, very thoroughly. We do find ticks occasionally, most of the time before they've fed or when they've just attached. At this point it is not a big deal. However, very rarely Dana will find a deer tick feeding on herself (they don't like me for some reason) and we'll very carefully remove it, head and all, with tweezers and ship it to a lab to be analyzed to see if it is carrying lyme. Five times out of five now the results have come back negative for lyme so she doesn't have to go on antibiotics. Each time we've found them they've also only been feeding a short period of time. How long do ticks need to feed to transmit lyme? Not sure if there is a consensus on this since lyme seems to remain a mystery for some reason, but I've heard 24 hours, which doesn't sound accurate. I've also heard from veterinarians and doctors that if you've been bitten by a deer tick and it is carrying lyme to automatically go on the minimal antibiotic dosage (which is 2 weeks of doxycyline, tough on the body but better than untreated lyme).
So, the moral of the story is this: after being on the farm, either before you get in the car or when you get home, or before bed at night, check yourselves and your kids for ticks. It is a good habit to get into and really enhances the nighttime routine.
If you find a tick feeding on you, pull it out, head too, and send it hear to be analyzed: UMass Amherst