(BPT) - If you live in the Midwest or the Northeast, you've probably seen a tick or two in your lifetime. However, if you’re new to the area or you’ve never encountered a tick before, you may not be aware of just how dangerous these tiny arachnids can be. Big concerns do come in small packages, and there's plenty of reason to be wary of ticks, even as temperatures turn colder.
No matter your previous experience with ticks, the following information from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) can help by showing you exactly what makes ticks dangerous, and how to remove a tick safely should you find one on your body.
Read on to help protect yourself and your loved ones.
Ticks and the danger of Lyme disease
Ticks have the potential to spread several different diseases, depending on the species, but the disease that is talked about most often is Lyme disease.
A multisystem inflammatory disease, Lyme disease is named for Lyme, Connecticut, the city where it was first discovered. Initial stages of the disease show up on the skin via a rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. In later stages, the disease will spread to the joints, the nervous system and in some cases, even other organ systems. Advanced stages of a Lyme disease infection can cause you to feel increasingly fatigued, a tingling or numbness around your body, headaches and/or stiffness in your neck. Memory loss, trouble sleeping and difficulty concentrating have also been observed in patients suffering from advanced cases of Lyme disease.
Not all species of ticks are able to spread the disease. Instead, Lyme disease is spread by the blacklegged tick, commonly known as the deer tick. These ticks are often smaller than other species of ticks you may encounter, making it harder to detect their presence on your body, increasing your risk of infection.
Should you be fortunate enough to find the tick while it is still on your body, however, removing it should be done carefully, following the guide below.
Removing the tick from your body
If you see a tick on your body, your natural impulse may be to bat it away, but this could lead to long-term problems if the tick has already attached itself to you. Instead, follow these four steps from the National Pest Management Association for the proper way to remove a tick:
* Step one. Stay calm and gently pull back any hair from around the tick, exposing the skin near the tick/bite.
* Step two. Locate the head of the tick and grasp it as close to the skin as possible using fine-tipped tweezers and gently squeeze. Do not grab the tick’s body, as this can increase the chance of injecting the tick’s blood into the skin.
* Step three. Pull outward in a straight motion until the pressure pulls out the head of the tick. Do not twist or wiggle the tick, as that may tear the head off, leaving it lodged in the skin.
* Step four. Once removed, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with soap and water. You can also use rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub. Ticks should then be flushed down a toilet or wrapped tightly in a tissue before disposing in a closed receptacle. Do not try and crush them.
If you notice a rash developing over the following days, or if you start to suffer from headaches or fever, see your doctor right away. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, and your chance of a cure increases dramatically if you seek treatment within the first three weeks of infection. For added protection, contact a licensed pest control professional for tick control services to help keep you and your family safe.
To learn more about protecting yourself and your loved ones from ticks and other pests, visit www.pestworld.org.