Cavendish residents are reporting ticks on pets as well as themselves. May/June and Oct/Nov are peak tick seasons in Vermont. Since ticks carry serious diseases-Lyme, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan virus and Borrelia miyamotoi-it is important to protect yourself and your pets.
How to protect yourself: Ticks can live in a variety of habitats, but they prefer wooded and bushy areas with high grass, brush and leaf litter. If you enter an area where ticks are likely to live, try to avoid direct contact with the surrounding vegetation. For instance, if you are hiking stay in the center of the trail where the grass is low and the underbrush is cut back. Ticks do not jump onto their hosts like fleas. They also do not drop down onto their hosts from leaves high above in trees.
• Protect your skin by wearing pants, long sleeves, and long socks. Tucking your pant legs into your socks and tucking your shirt into your pants can help keep ticks on off of your skin. Apply an insect repellent that contains 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Do not spray repellent on skin that is covered by clothing. Apply permethrin to your clothes. Permethrin kills ticks on contact and remains protective through several washings. Do not use permethrin on skin. Make sure the repellent you use is registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
• Check for Ticks-Remove ticks from your clothes before going indoors. Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. The heat and dry conditions can kill blacklegged ticks .Check your body and your child’s body after being outdoors. Use a mirror to look at all parts of your body (armpits, behind ears, groin, etc.) and remove any ticks you find. Shower soon after you come inside.
How to Remove a Tick: Remove the tick as soon as you discover it. Removing a tick the right away can help prevent tickborne diseases
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers, or one of the many available tick removal tools. Firmly grasp the tick close to the skin. Avoid touching the tick with your bare hands.
2. With a steady motion, pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removed. Do not twist or jerk the tick. Do not be alarmed if the tick's mouthparts remain in the skin.
3. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
4. Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Clean the tick bite with soap and water or use an antiseptic such as iodine scrub or rubbing alcohol.
Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or any other products to remove a tick. These methods are not effective.
Protect Your Pets: Pets that go outdoors can bring ticks inside so check your pet each time they’ve been outside. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick borne diseases. Vaccines are not available for all the tick borne diseases so use a tick preventive product on your dog.
Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick borne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:
• Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
• If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
• Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
• Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area.
• Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
• Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.
Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian!
For information on tick prevention in animals go the Centers For Disease Control website.
If You Have a Tick Bite: Symptoms may begin as soon as three days after a tick bite, but can appear as long as 30 days after. Contact your health care provider if you develop a fever, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue or a rash soon after a tick bite.
Antibiotics after a Tick Bite: In general, infectious disease specialists do not recommend routine use of antibiotics. However, health providers might offer patients a single dose if the following conditions are met:
• The tick can be identified as a nyphmal or adult blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis),
• The tick has been attached for 36 hours or more,
• The antibiotic can be given within 72 hours of tick removal,
• Antibiotics are not contraindicated, and
• Lyme disease is common in the area where the tick bite occurred. If you believe you picked up the tick anywhere in Vermont or neighboring states, this condition would be met.
This type of treatment, called post-exposure prophylaxis, is not recommended as a way to prevent other tick borne diseases in Vermont such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis or ehrlichiosis
Learn more at the Vermont Health Department’s website Mosquito, Tick & Zoonotic Diseases.