Hunters, campers, hikers warned about ticks

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Hunters, campers and hikers should take special precautions in the woods this winter to avoid a newly problematic, winter-resilient tick breed that could transmit Lyme disease, according the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"We are trying to make the hunters aware that there are ticks in some of these areas and asking them to check their deer," said Lindsay Rist, wildlife communication specialist for ODNR.

Fact Box

  • The three most common ticks in New York State are the deer (black-legged) tick, the American dog tick and the lone star tick.
  • Only deer ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. They can also carry the germs that cause babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis.
  • Young deer ticks, called nymphs, are brown and the size of poppy seeds. Adult female deer ticks are red and black, while males are black.
  • Adult deer ticks are about the size of a sesame seed.
  • American dog ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
  • Dog ticks are reddish-brown and larger than deer ticks.
  • Deer and dog ticks are most active during the spring, early summer and fall.

Precautions

  • Before going outside, tuck in all clothing to minimize exposed skin.
  • Apply insect repellant before headed outside.
  • Thoroughly check yourself and your pets for ticks after returning from outdoors.
  • Check that deer carcasses are free of ticks as soon as possible to avoid spreading the ticks to new locations.
  • If your pets spend time outdoors, talk to your veterinarian about possible tick repellents.
  • If sick, remember to tell your physician of possible exposure to ticks.

Deer, which are harbingers for blacklegged ticks, are not affected by Lyme disease; however, humans and household pets can become very ill if infected. Furthermore, the disease is hard to diagnose if not spotted early, said Needham.

There were 2385 cases of Lyme Disease reported in New York in 2010 and grew to 3118 in 2011 according to the CDC. Columbia County is number one for tick populations, a place where many hunters flock too.

There are several precautions that outdoorsmen and women can take to protect themselves this winter. To begin, it is important to make sure all clothing is snuggly tucked in. This will ensure that as little skin as possible is accessible, said Rist. "Ticks are going to climb up from the bottom until they find skin. They do not drop off from tress," she added.

Hunters should thoroughly check themselves, their pets and their deer carcasses carefully. Additionally, people spending a significant amount of time outdoors should familiarize themselves with the symptoms of Lyme disease.

The first symptom is a red rash that resembles a bullseye. Secondary symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches and possibly swollen lymph nodes. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate help from a physician and should mention possible exposure to ticks.

As for furry companions, consult with their veterinarians to determine what tick repellent products would be best and to get treatment for sick pets.

Thomas Pest Services, your tick control expert wants to protect your health, family, friends, children, pets and property from these scary critters. Thomas Pest Services, a local, family owned pest management company who specializes in tick services seasonally and prior to events to reduce mosquito and tick populations. Contact us by phone 1-877-518-2847, email, twitter, or facebook for your free estimate and inspection today.

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