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What you need to know about tick safety

  • Feb 8, 2016

Adventuring outdoors is a way to get physical exercise and experience nature. However, there can be times where the natural world presents very real dangers. Ticks may be small and unassuming, but they can carry dangerous diseases and be a serious hazard to pets and humans.

Ticks are arachnids, meaning they are mostly closely related to spiders and mites. Being parasites, they use their jaws to bite into the flesh of a host animal and engorge themselves on blood. Unfortunately, ticks can host bacteria and viruses that can make humans and other animals tremendously sick.

The University of Rhode Island Tick Encounter Resource Center reported that the dangers associated with ticks are fully preventable by following simple safety measures.

Before heading out
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tick bites can lead to a number of dangerous conditions, including rashes, fevers and Lyme disease. Just a single bite may be enough to contract an illness, and for that reason, preventative measures are important. It is important to note that not all species of ticks carry hazardous microbes.

Before heading out on a camping expedition or hiking trip, the CDC recommended researching local tick activity and species. The parasites generally prefer moist, humid environments, and can be found in wooded areas or long grass. Walking through leaf litter, shrubs or other vegetation may also put you in contact with ticks. URI stated that because ticks may be active even in winter, taking precautionary steps ahead of any outdoor activities is necessary year-round.

Wearing pants or tall socks can be a good way to prevent any bites. Likewise, investing in clothes made with Permethrin or choosing a bug spray with DEET is advisable for staving off ticks. Make sure to bring your triple sensor Pro Trek watch out on the trail as well!

On the trail
Taking time to stop and look for ticks during an outdoor excursion is important for minimizing any health hazards. Ticks like to feed on the heads and necks of host animals, and will often climb their way up an unsuspecting victim. 

While out on a hiking trip, inspecting your legs and arms for any ticks is important because they may not have bitten down yet. Ticks are so small that it is unlikely you would ever feel a bite, so inspecting your limbs and body may be the only way to catch any unwanted bugs. Be sure to check out your dog or children for ticks while out on the trail as well. 

Dealing with a bite
After returning home following a trip outdoors, check your clothes and socks for any ticks, and take a hot shower, as this can be a way to wash off any bugs. This is also an opportunity to conduct a thorough tick-check.

Tweezers are the best tool for removing a tick if it has bitten into your skin. Find a sharp pair and clench down as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight up, away from the bite to remove the entire animal, including the head. Place the tick on a piece of tape, as having it available for a doctor could be helpful.

According to the CDC, following a tick bite it is important to watch for any signs of illness, and to reach out to a health care provider if symptoms such as rashes or fever develop. Tick-borne illnesses will not be transmitted following every tick encounter, and your skin may become red as a result of the bite itself, not due to any more serious conditions.

If you have been bitten by a tick, URI reported that seeking treatment within 24 hours should be enough to prevent any long-term side effects or disease transmission.

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