FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 30, 2012
Tick Awareness Urged Following Mild Winter, Warm Spring
(Columbia, SC) Scientists are expecting this summer to be particularly abundant with blood suckers waiting for their next human meal. And they’re not talking about another Twilight sequel.
Thanks to a mild winter and warm spring, many people will be spending time outside, sooner and more often than usual. They’re likely to visit places (such as woodlands) where they’ll find an unwelcomed surprise—ticks.
While scientists aren’t necessarily saying there will be more ticks than usual, due to weather patterns and food source fluctuations, they might be hungrier. Those same weather patterns encourage us humans to go outdoors and put ourselves on the buffet, so to speak.
There are four species of ticks abundant in the Palmetto State: American Dog tick, Lone Star tick, Blacklegged or “Deer” tick, and the Brown Dog tick (It’s the tick that’s brown. It bites dogs of all colors). Each of these species is capable of transmitting (vectoring) diseases to animals (including humans) while feeding.
These diseases can be treated early if you recognize the symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches
If left untreated, some illnesses, such as Lyme disease, can cause long-term problems such as chronic joint pain, nervous system issues, and heart complications. Additionally, some people are allergic to tick bites and may have a localized reaction (often a red rash) which may last several weeks or months.
The most well known tick-vectored disease is Lyme disease. This bacterial disease is delivered by the Blacklegged (or Deer) tick. The insect must be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Symptoms appear within weeks, sometimes just days. A “bulls-eye” rash expanding ½- to ¾-inches per day is typical in most Lyme disease patients. It’s a rash that can reach from six to 16 inches in diameter.
A lesser known tick-vectored disease prevalent in our state is STARI (Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness). This bacterial disease is transmitted by the commonly encountered Lone Star tick. The tick must be attached for 36 hours for you to catch STARI. A “bulls-eye” rash with an open spore at the bite usually appears within a week. This rash can expand to three inches or more and may be accompanied by fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle/joint pain. There have not been long-term chronic issues associated with STARI, unlike Lyme disease.
To protect yourself from tick-borne diseases you must limit contact. That can be done without shutting yourself up inside your home all summer.
When you work outside or if you expect to be somewhere you may encounter ticks, wear light-colored clothing so you can easily see any that have hopped onto you. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants tucked into your socks. Use an insect repellant with DEET.
Once you return home, immediately do a “tick-check” on yourself and your family. That includes pets that may have trekked with you.
Wash your clothes in the hottest water allowed for by their labels.
If you find a tick embedded in skin, carefully remove it with tweezers. Grasp the tick at a point nearest to the skin and slowly pull it out. After you get it out, disinfect the area of the bite with an antiseptic. Do not crush or burn the tick while it is embedded in skin-- it may expel disease-causing organisms. Smothering the tick with petroleum jelly or some similar substance will not force the tick to “pull” out on its own.
Once the tick is removed, do not crush it between your fingers as this too could allow you to come into contact with disease.
Being “tick aware” a little earlier this year could save you from both a minor inconvenience and a long-term illness. Those of us in the forestry world deal with these characters all the time. That doesn’t mean they prefer us! They are equal opportunity biters, not nearly as picky as characters of Twilight.
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For more information, call Laurie Reid at (803) 896-8830 or Scott Hawkins at (803) 896-8820 or by email.
The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource
For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,800.00 of economic impact.