After one of the heaviest tick seasons ever, the majority of Americans are taking precautions to protect themselves from ticks, but are misinformed in the correct tick removal methods, according to a new survey from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
Serious tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis, are transmitted to humans when ticks latch on and bite unnoticed, most often during outdoor activities. The NPMA urges those spending time outdoors during the summer months to take simple steps to prevent the spread of these dangerous diseases.
This advice comes on the heels of the group’s new survey, finding while 72 percent of U.S. adults report taking some precautions to protect themselves and their families from ticks, more than 60 percent have reported using improper methods to remove a tick from themselves, their family members or their pets.
“Ticks transmit serious illnesses with a host of dangerous and unpleasant symptoms such as fever, headache, rash and fatigue,” says Dr. Jorge Parada, infectious disease specialist and NPMA’s medical spokesperson. “Because ticks typically require hours of feeding before they can successfully transmit infections, prompt and proper tick removal is a crucial step in decreasing the threat of catching a tick-borne illness.”
If you find a tick on your body or that of a family member or pet, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. Avoid squashing the tick because spreading tick blood in the bite wound might increase the risk of infection. Once the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water. If you develop a rash, headaches, pains or fever, call your doctor immediately.
“Ticks pose a real threat during the summer months when many Americans are spending more time outdoors,” remarked Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs, NPMA. “We hope they’ll remember that a few simple steps can make a difference in protecting their families from the health risks associated with these pests.
Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and closed-toe shoes when outdoors, especially in wooded areas or tall grasses. Choose light colored clothing that makes it easier to spot ticks and other insects.
Wear a bug spray containing at least 20% DEET when outdoors, and reapply as directed on the label.
When hiking, stay in the center of trails, away from vegetation.
Take steps to keep your own yard tick-free. Keep grass cut low and remove weeds, woodpiles and debris, which can attract ticks and other pests.
Be on the lookout for signs of tick bites, such as a telltale red bull’s eye rash around a bite. If you suspect a tick has bitten you, seek medical attention.
Learn the symptoms of Lyme disease and consult with your doctor immediately if you believe you have contracted it.
If you find a tick in your home or suspect you have ticks on your property, contact a licensed pest professional who can inspect and recommend a course of action to reduce or eliminate ticks on your property.
To learn more about tick prevention or to find a qualified pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org.
The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.