Ticked Off

In Uncategorized by Cara Armour

By Arden Moore

Time to Talk Ticks with Tick Man Dan Wolff

Fittingly, ticks rhyme with the word, ick. That’s because they are icky. But they are always disease carriers who pose health threats to you and your pets.

The month of May is known as Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but the cause of this disease – deer ticks – seem to be almost everywhere in every season.

So, I reached out for tick tactics from arguably one of the world’s top experts. Dan Wolff, of Waltham, Massachusetts, is better known as Tick Man Dan. He is an educator, expert and in-demand speaker on tick behavior, tick tactics and tick anatomy.

“Tick bites are serious,” he warns. “Many people do not realize that there are different types of ticks and that you can get in some cases bacterial and viral infections plus parasites all from the same tick bite. At the onset of a tick-borne disease, some people can experience fever, headaches, fatigue and joint pain.”

An avid outdoorsman, he was motivated to create a tick-removing device when he discovered a tick on the back of his then-10-year-old son, Matt. That device features two ends – one to lift ticks off the skin of people and one that removes ticks from animal fur. He recently sold his invention to a company that now sells it as the Bug Bite Thing Tick Remover. This tool is made of stainless steel and has been approved to safely remove embedded ticks of all sizes, types and levels of engorgement.

Wolff estimates that he has been bitten about 250 times by deer ticks and that he has removed about 3,000 ticks from people and pets. His message to all after a dog walk or hike in the woods, take the time to do a head-to-toe and head-to-tail inspection for any ticks.

“I have found ticks in my belly button, behind my ears and other tight places, so my motto is, ‘Don’t neglect your crevices,’” he says.

Tick Bite Prevention

He shares these other ways to prevent a tick bite:

  • Try to avoid places where ticks thrive, such as leaf piles, wood piles, long grass, bushy areas and places where lawns meet woods.
  • Apply DEET or other EPA-approved tick repellents on your skin and consider wearing tick-repellent clothing containing permethrin before heading to any suspected tick areas.
  • Consider wearing light-colored clothing so you can spot ticks more easily as well as sporting a hat.
  • Keep your pets on year-round tick preventive products. They come as collars, chewables and topicals.

Game Plan If You Discover Ticks

Wolff advises that you use tweezers or a tick-removal tool – and not your fingertips – to remove the tick.

Aim for getting as close to the skin as possible, grab the head of the tick and pull straight up. Do not attempt to twist the tick out or drown it with petroleum jelly. You risk spreading pathogens in the body of you or your pet.

Next, treat the area with antiseptic or soap.

Then pop that tick in a sealable bag and use a marker to write the date down. Wolff recommends that you send the tick to a lab that will determine the tick species and any diseases it may be carrying. Learn more by visiting www.tickreport.com.

It’s Tick Fact Time

To separate fact from fiction, Wolff shares these tick truths:

  • Ticks crawl. They do not fly, jump or drop from trees onto people and pets.
  • He says the Lone Star tick has a sensory system capable of detecting carbon dioxide and movement of approaching hosts.
  • Ticks come in small, medium and large sizes.
  • Ticks can remain active even after the first frost.
  • In most cases, a feeding tick can transmit infection in less than 24 hours to the person or pet.
  • In the nymph stage, deer ticks can be mistaken for poppy seeds on your skin.

To learn more, please check out the Global Lyme Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to conquering Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Visit https://www.globallymealliance.org/.

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