With warm spring temperatures many residents throughout the North Country are reporting that they are seeing an increase in the tick population.
The most common fear associated with ticks is lyme disease.
That is why the Jefferson County Public Health Department is urging residents to take the appropriate steps to ensuring they do not contract the disease.
“Whenever we have an increase in insect activity in population, of course it increases the potential of insect warranted diseases to humans because if it’s warmer humans are going to be out in their environments,” Jeff Leiendecker, Public Health Coordinator at the Jefferson County Public Health Department, told MyABC50.com.
Although ticks are commonly viewed as insects, they are in fact an arachnid like a spider or scorpion.
Ticks are some of the most efficient carriers of disease. They can easily attach to clothing and skin, sucking blood and feeding slowly, while going unnoticed for a long period of time.
According to Leiendecker, to contract lyme disease a tick has to feed for a 36 to 48 hour period. Prevention, according to Leiendecker, is the most important aspect in combating ticks and contraction of lyme disease.
Deer ticks, carriers of lyme disease, can not jump or fly. Instead, they will climb to tall grass, brush and shrubs, and await a passing animal or human. Once attached to the skin, the tick will climb upward until it reaches a protected area, such as a waistband.
There are many preventative measures that a person can take to avoid contracting lyme disease from a tick, including:
- Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
- Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirts into pants.
- Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
- Consider wearing insect repellent.
- Stay on clear, well-traveled trails. Avoid contacting tall vegetation.
- Avoid sitting directly on the ground, or on stone walls.
- Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
- Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.
Tick removal is an important defense against contracting lyme disease, according to Leiendecker.
“The first thing to do is get it off as soon as possible with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible and gingerly wiggle it out. The mouth piece of the tick is actually barbed, so when it goes in barbs will open up, so it’s kind of like a fish hook,” said Leiendecker.
By gently removing the tick with tweezers, Leiendecker says that you can decrease your chances of leaving the head of the tick in the skin, preventing contraction of lyme disease.
To learn more, and to hear from Jeff Leiendecker, watch the complete video story.